Monday, June 13, 2011

"I guess to build yourself up so high, you had to take her and break her down"

Stupid Boy by Keith Urban

I have an overwhelming need to write today. I don't know why today, right now, while I have so much work to do, but I'm learning to listen to the nagging inside my heart that won't let me rest until I obey. Maybe I was inspired. Maybe I was directed. Maybe it was fate, maybe not, but I came across Baron Batch's blog today. As a lot of you know, I workout at Capstone Crossfit, and I follow them on Facebook. They posted a tweet to Baron this morning about coming to workout there this week. For some reason I clicked his name and his twitter account had a link to his blog. Me being the blogstalker I am, I decided to check it out, and let's just say, I was incredibly surprised at the many talents he has been blessed with. I happen to read a post about ripples in the water and how everything you do has a purpose that leads to this ripple-effect. It was profound and moving, and I would encourage all of you to read it. God has some truly wonderful things in store for this very gifted individual. Here is the link:

After reading this, it got me thinking about my original purpose and what I set out to do with this blog. I can't tell you how many times I've been in conversation with different people and the topic of domestic abuse comes up. In fact, it happened just this past Saturday at lunch with a friend. Depending on the person, their views are always different, but there is without a doubt, a common thread. The thread of complete confusion and inability to totally grasp "why." The "whys" vary from person to person, but there is always a "why." Why would someone treat another human being that way? Why on earth would anyone put up with that? Why won't they just leave? Why would anyone choose to be with someone so horrible? There is no clear cut answer to any of these questions, and each situation is different, but I'm going to do my best to explain things from my perspective and my experiences.

Why would someone treat another human being that way? Well, that's a hard question to answer. I believe there are a few different types of abusers. There are those who are insecure and have to put you down in order to feel better about themselves. There are those who are mentally unstable, and are usually un-medicated, leading to complete chaos and inconsistency. There are those who grew up in abusive homes and are simply repeating the patterns they are familiar with. There are the alcoholics and drug addicts, the ones with unsolved parental issues, and those that are just downright mean. And then, there are the worst of them all, the sociopaths and narcissists who care nothing about anyone but themselves, but manipulate you to believe otherwise. In my past life, I was lucky enough to be married to a person with a combination of these, but mostly the latter.

Why on earth would anyone put up with that? Why would anyone choose to be with someone so horrible? These two questions go hand in hand, and are by far the most difficult for those on the outside to wrap their heads around. Let me start by saying that abusive relationships don't begin as abusive relationships, at least not blatantly. I think it's safe to say that an overwhelming majority of women would discontinue a first date if she were put down, called a bad name or made to feel inadequate ten minutes into a date. There are the spineless exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, bad behavior on a first date does not equal a second date. In fact, the bad behavior doesn't really start until much later, usually after the wedding, once you legally "belong" to them. BUT, I must be very clear here....although the abuser doesn't exhibit these behaviors at first, in fact, it's quite the opposite end of the spectrum, there is almost always a feeling deep down that something might not be quite right. It's too perfect even. Listen to that feeling friends. It's that feeling that could possibly save your life. No matter how charming and perfect and doting this person may be, if you get a gut instinct that something is amiss, run and don't look back. Trust me on this, because once they have you in their snares, it's very difficult to get out.

An abusive relationship is not bad all the time, especially not a first. Eventually, you have a fight, he calls you names, punches holes in the walls and then he brings you flowers and tells you how sorry he is but he just can't help it because he loves you so much. He is on his best behavior for a very long time after that. But inevitably, it happens again and again and the periods of good behavior get shorter and shorter, and the fighting escalates. You slowly begin to become the reason for his outbursts. "If you would just to this or that, I wouldn't get so angry." Or "if you would just be better at this and make me feel this way, I would stop yelling." Along with that, the mind games begin. "Have you ever thought about doing this, or wearing this, or being friends with this person?" Those questions eventually change to "Do this, wear this and don't be friends with so and so," but it happens so subtly over time, that you don't even notice. When you love someone, sometimes you feel it necessary to do anything to make that person happy. It's a natural process. We all want our mate to be happy. What's different about abusive relationships though, is that these requests become next to impossible to fulfill. The abuser sets the bar at a certain level and once you reach that level, they raise it again, and it's a constant game you will never win.

Why won't they just leave? This is actually the easiest question of all to answer: Fear. Fear of the abuser, fear of being alone, fear of failure. Usually once the violence becomes physical, the one being abused is so mentally and emotionally beaten, they don't even know which way to turn or who to trust. They are entangled in this sick and twisted game, that seems to have no way out. They have been cut off from their family and friends, they may not have their own source of income, and they have been made to be so emotionally dependant on the abuser, that leaving seems worse than staying. They have been told (or made to feel) over and over that they are worthless, that no one loves them and that the only person who can save them is the abuser. They begin to believe this and until they reach their breaking point, they won't leave.

So what is that breaking point? It's different for everyone. Mine was children. I knew I could never live with myself if I ever brought an innocent human being into a situation like that. I know it sounds funny, but I saw the way the dogs would run and hide from him when he would get so angry, and one day it just hit me...those could be our children. I literally woke up and wondered what had happened to my life. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. No one should live in fear of their spouse, and no one should feel so repressed that they can't be who they are. No one should have to lock themselves in the bathroom just to get away, just to get some peace and have some sanity.

I'm one of the lucky few who woke up and was able to save myself. But I didn't do it alone. I owe my salvation to a lot of people. My father in particular, for raising me to believe that I was a strong and independent woman. He always told me to make sure I could take care of myself and not to rely on anyone else to do it for me. Had I not been given that, I wouldn't have made it on my own, nor would I have had the courage to leave. I owe so much more to my friends than I can ever repay. One in particular, you know who you are. She was the only one who refused to put up with the ex's behavior. She stood her ground when she didn't like the way he treated me, and refused to be around him any longer. When I was being manipulated into thinking he would kill himself if I left, she was the one person who told me it was either him or me who would end up dead and I had to decide who it was going to be. She's tough as nails and she was the strength I needed when my own was gone. Circumstance of life caused us to part ways for awhile, but as is true with any real friend, we have been able to reconnect recently and it's as if no time has passed. I still don't think she realizes what a big part she played in helping me get to where I am now. I am also thankful to my sweet husband for showing me that real men aren't jerks, and for loving me in the gentle and unwavering way I need to be loved. He took my healing process a step further by allowing me to trust again, and showing me that love doesn't have to be so hard, and it never has to hurt.

After reading Baron's blog today, I do think that maybe my life does have a grand design, and that maybe I was strategically placed in that situation so that I could bring hope to those who need it. Maybe it wasn't a mistake or a choice I made, but maybe there was a greater purpose for my pain.

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