Saturday, 28 May 2011

Getting it...

In my "Detox of the Mind" post a few days ago I mentioned a post I had written months ago but not had the guts to put up. Well, I've since read most of a couple of books ordered from Amazon and I'm shocked by how closely what I said in the post tallied with the examples given in the books. I could have written half the damn things myself!!

So, I'm going to post it and be damned.

Also, thanks for your lovely comments. It's great to know that people care. Really great.

I was listening to a phone-in on radio Five Live as I drove to work a fair while ago. It was asking what makes a person abuse their partner (male or female). Over the course of the show several people gave accounts of being violently abused. Their accounts overlapped, often with the same phrases and explanations cropping up over and over again. How the (mainly) women were made to feel that it was their fault, that they were selfish and greedy, that, if they had behaved properly, the abuse would not have "had to" happen. How the victim came to recognise when it was going to happen. How it happened often when the perpetrator had had a drink and how, when not in the abusive mode, the perpetrator was sweet, gentle and charming and "really loved me".

When asked why they stayed or let it happen, they generally replied: because I started to believe that it was my fault, because it was difficult to leave your whole life behind and because "I loved him". The phrase "Jekyll & Hyde" was mentioned more than once.

It occurred to me that, with one important exception, I could have uttered nearly all of those sentences about my marriage. Apart from the fact that I have never been hit, the rest of it applied to me. Maybe not always in an acute way but I did come to fear the drunken row and the words of abuse that would be heaped on me. The accusations of being selfish, lazy, greedy, a failure, a coward, fat...

Over the years, I have been berated at various times for: being fat, biting my nails, reading romances, wanting to spend time at home on the sofa, going to the gym/for a walk/run/mountain biking rather than spending time with him (in the pub), not exercising and getting fat, letting myself go, failing at every diet I ever did, going to the football, playing golf, spending time on the computer blogging, being obsessed with food (because I was watching food programmes on TV or because I spent too long perusing the stands at the food fair), criticising or contradicting him in public, not having enough or the right sort of food in the house, leaving the house dirty or untidy, booking tickets for a concert or play (in fact several) when I should know he wouldn't want to go, spending time with my family while on holiday in Canada, complaining when asked to pick him up from the pub at 11pm or later (which happened almost every night), asking to go out, say to the cinema or for a meal, rather than going to the pub every night, coming out to the pub late, putting nutmeg in a rice pudding, cooking a lasagna when I should know he doesn't like it, cooking supper late (ie. after 7pm), slightly burning food "because you just don't give a shit", pressing the gate opening button too late so that we had to wait a couple of extra seconds on the road, not indicating early enough when turning into the house, arranging to have friends over when I should know he wouldn't want to; being friends with people he didn't like; organising a birthday party, wanting to organise a Christmas lunch, letting food go beyond its sell-by date in the fridge, mentioning him in my blog, wanting to go on television (on a programme which addressed why I struggled with my weight), talking about myself, talking too loudly, being drunk in the pub or at a party, and many many more.

And I probably did all those things. But even if they are true they are not reasons to viciously attack someone and then use them as examples of why that person is lazy, greedy, worthless, a failure or a coward etc.

Everyone does things that are not great or doesn't do things they should do. There are ways to address these niggles in life without battering someone down and turning them into a doormat who is fearful of what is coming next.

But it's insidious. In between the battering down and criticism and rows are the good times when that person is sweet and loving, when you enjoy your life despite what's going on or when you just want to make the most of life and/or pretend it's all alright.

Even now I've left I'm told that I'm the most unpopular woman in the Valley, in fact that I'm widely hated, that I have no friends, that everyone has always disliked me, that I'll never be invited to anything, that I'm lazy, greedy, selfish, untrustworthy, have no honour, never tried to save our marriage, that I've "put on the beef" (not true!!), that I'll not be able to hold down my job, and that I'll end up in a Council flat, fat and lonely and beaten with no-one and that he is only one of many who will be pleased to see it.

The difference is that now I can see the whole picture, the good and the bad and I know who I am and what I've done and what that makes me. I own up to my mistakes and flaws (as far as anyone can) but I also own up to my good points and my attributes. Maybe one day I'll post a blog about what I think is good about myself because even typing up the accusations has made me feel a bit rubbish. Don't know why this all came out today but I probably needed the catharsis. I hope it doesn't come over as being bitter and twisted. I just want to recognise where life has taken me and correct that course. Not blaming or hating, just seeing clearly for the first time in a while.

Now the task ahead of me is to work out what I did or didn't do to collude in the pattern. How never to do such a thing again (not that I think it will arise, happily).


beth said...

This was my life with BN2. I'm glad you're not living this way anymore -- you deserve so much better. Beth xx

Sarah said...

I've always loved your blog and remember how you were "abused" after you wrote about your marriage break up. Why ever you split, it was right for you. I haven't moved from that, I didn't doubt you and I know I was right. This might have influenced some friends or followers but you were always right for you.

So take a deep breath, feel great about unburdening and keep loving your new life. Take confidence in your new found self-belief and keep being you. We, your followers, love you. Your "real world friends" more so no doubt. Go girl. You are inspirational.

Love Cat said...

I've been meaning to leave a comment for a while recently and I'm sorry I'm only getting around to it now.

You often cross my mind... for lots of reasons. We seems to be around the same weight at the same time. We've both found someone that we deserve. Your inner chimp technique has totally resonated with me - just a few of the reasons.

I just wanted to say that I think you're an incredible woman. The situation with your marriage was a terrible one and I know many strong women who have been caught in a very similar situation. While I've never been in an abusive relationship I have been in a relationship that sapped all the life out of me and made me change into someone that was a shadow of my former self. It's incredible how formidable women can sometimes bend and stretch so much for someone else because they think it's the right thing to do and then before the know it, it's become the norm.

The mental strength it takes to get out of these sitations and to not allow yourself to feel blame and guilt is immense and for that alone, I think you are an inspiration.


Mrs said...

Lovely Lesley

It's me, still reading, still rooting for you! I'll just remind you of Mama Oprah's favourite phrase, which I think was taken from Maya Angelou...

"When you know better, you do better".

I sense you are on a mission to understand your situation and yourself. And I applaud you from down south!

So it's time to trot out my favourite phrase, which I know resonates with you...

"Knowledge is power".

For so long, you pulled out all the stops with the weight loss, which inspired so many of us, and grappled with the emotions but feared it was too navel gazing at times. Meeting Steve Peters, a bone fide psychologist, seemed to give you permission to think about stuff while you got to know your chimp.

Keep going, lovely Lesley; you have a wonderful spirit and a sense of humour. : )

And you've kept this blog going through thick and thin (boom boom).


Peridot said...

I'm very sorry to read this - I hope the people who have been set to read your blog to be unpleasant to you, read this and feel chastened. You never know what's in a relationship so they should really butt out.

Happier days ahead now, that's good