Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

16, May 2011 at 10:39 PM (sad or sorry for myself) (, , )

What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you’re not there

What do I do to make you want me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I say when it’s all over
And sorry seems to be the hardest word

It’s sad, so sad
It’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t we talk it over
Always seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

What do I do to make you love me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I do when lightning strikes me
What have I got to do
What have I got to do
When sorry seems to be the hardest word?

(Recorded by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin)

Elton John was my older sister’s favourite singer in the 1970’s, so I grew up with him, and heard this song a lot. As a kid, I always thought he was saying in this song that it is hard for him to say he’s sorry. I have a different interpretation of the song now: I believe he is mourning his partner’s lack of care for him, and begging for an apology he knows he will never get.

This came on the radio once when we were in the car. I wish I could remember when in our relationship that was, but I can’t. When I heard “and it’s getting more and more absurd”, I burst into tears I could not control. It was that word: absurd. I remember feeling deep down in my heart while I listened to this song that we were past there being anything left to hope for. He would never want me, he would never love me. I didn’t know then why he was never sorry toward me, I don’t know now. I have to accept he perhaps never will be. That has been one of the hardest things for me to bear, and so I might never get to that acceptance. It hurts too much.

He asked me why I was crying, I said, “Just listen.” I hoped by listening, he would hear me and how much I wished he wanted and loved me. Like the person in this song, I believed– mistakenly– that if only he wanted and loved me more, that if there was something I could do to make him want and love me, he would treat me better. This is, of course, a fallacy. But still, walking down the street today as this song came to mind, I felt very sad. He told me when his last girlfriend left him (a girl he dated for only a month), he recorded her some songs of his own composition which he sent to her on cd, in hopes of winning her back. I walked along with this song in my head, like a sentimental fool I could imagine him doing the same for me. But in all the two years we were together, he never cared for me as much or in that way… and even though I know this, like a sentimental fool, I thought:

[Abuser’s name removed at his request], if you’re listening now, this is the song I wish I could hear your pretty voice sing for me.

And I sung the song to myself– very, very quietly.

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Putting It All Together

16, May 2011 at 4:09 AM (sad or sorry for myself) (, , , , , , , , )

[21. May update: I have been thinking about this post, and I feel stupid for it. I won’t remove it, however, because I think it serves to represent just how confused, insecure and unable to know what reality even is anymore when someone exercises gaslighting, withholding and underloading on their partner– and how much I had to rely on deduction, inference, or “filling in the blanks” to try to figure out what was ever going on. I could never know what was true and what wasn’t, I still can’t. I am back to thinking that probably nothing happened between him and his high-school friend, and that I’m just being ridiculous for thinking maybe something did. But that’s just it: this is how things were every day, me going back and forth never being able to know anything, and feeling guilty, stupid or ridiculous whenever I had doubts. What certainly was going on throughout our relationship is that by lying, withholding, manipulating what I could and couldn’t know about him, my partner took control of whether or not there could be any trust or stability in the relationship. He didn’t have to actually cheat on me to make me feel insecure or jealous or even distrustful of my own instincts; by choosing to be always evasive and secretive, he only had to leave open and let me wrestle with the possibility of whether or not he did, would have, or wanted to. Obviously trust and intimacy cannot be created in such a relationship; anyone who, like my ex, would choose to cultivate insecurities, jealousies, distrust and self-doubt in their partner instead of trust, confidence, and stability, is taking abusive control of his partner’s feelings, emotions and ability to make decisions that are right for them.]

From what I have been learning, abusers seem to respond to the final break-up in one of two ways. Some are deeply outraged at their loss of control over their partner and intensify the abuse in an effort to maintain control or get it back. The other type leaves almost in relief: it was getting to be too much work and hassle to control their partner, manipulate their allies, and keep their guilt from overtaking their conscience. Neither outrage nor relief would be the reaction of someone who genuinely loves their partner. Except for one breathless and panicky voice mail message in which he insists I let him come over to talk to me left shortly after he read my break-up letter (he claims there was no connection, that he was just beside himself in a state of incoherence for no reason at all), my former partner falls and remains squarely in the latter category.

One of the things he did from the very beginning and throughout our relationship was lie to me about just about everything. Yet he would argue for hours whenever I confronted him that he was being completely honest even though he understood at the time I asked him something that he was strategically misleading me (“protecting” me from the truth so I “wouldn’t feel bad”, he said).  He can make the claim that he was honest due to extremely very careful and idiosyncratic interpretation known only to him of questions that I asked. Instead of answering the spirit of a question, he would pick out a single word, interpret it in his own private way, and answer accordingly. I could, of course, never know what, exactly, he was answering, and it took a very, very long time to figure out this is what was going on (this is called “Gaslighting”; see also: What is Withholding?).

[Note: the text below has been revised since this was originally posted; I discovered by review of our emails that I did not in fact question my partner on if he was sleeping with someone else, but rather I wondered if he was sleeping somewhere else– a significant difference, which does not make any assumption about whether he was staying with someone male or female, friends, other family or a new partner.  My inquiry only questions his location and not his activities. As shall be seen below, he responded aggressively about where he was staying by introducing himself the possibility he was sleeping with someone. Though he denies it, he does so in the same breath as he suggests it. Not only is this an example of gaslighting, especially because even I myself was led by his response to believe or feel as though I asked something I didn’t, but it looks very much like “confessing by denying”– like the classic “stupid criminals” story of the guy who was standing by a trash can when police officers walked by: when asked what he was doing there, the guy said, “I didn’t throw any drugs in the trash, if that’s what you were thinking!” This unsolicited denial aroused the officers’ suspicions; they then looked in the trash and sure enough, there were drugs and the guy was arrested. Having noticed this oddity today, I take back that it seems far-fetched that he was sleeping with someone within a week of seeing me for the last time, and now feel it appears likely he was– and what this would mean to me is that not only might he have lied to me about the incident itself, but also he lied the last time I saw him about how long he intends to wait (“at least a year”) before considering himself recovered enough from the pain of our relationship not working out before he “could even think about being intimate with another woman.” The bottom line, if it is the case that he lied about these things, for me is this: he suffers absolutely no heartbreak about never being with me again; further, I was not the “love of his life”, but rather an easily replaceable object. 😥 All that said, let us proceed with the story:]

Since our breakup, my partner and I have remained distantly in contact over email, mostly him dumping his endless problems with his car and his job on me, and arguing about financial matters. One day he seemed to me to suggest that he wasn’t staying where he said he was staying, and I wondered if he was hinting that he was already sleeping with someone else or at someone else’s house. I wrote him back and told him I really did not need to hear about such things, and stated I felt it was insensitive to imply to me that he had so soon moved on. He replied to everything else in my message except this issue. In fact, he seemed to make it a point to highlight his evasion by beginning his message with, “I guess I’d better clear some things up”– addressing every single thing in my previous message except whether or not I had any cause to be concerned that he was implying he had already moved on only a week after we shared our last kiss. What one doesn’t say is sometimes more revealing than what one does say, so I pointed out that I noticed his omission. He wrote back another ambiguous note that still did not address my concern. Finally, after many messages between us, in a note which makes several totally unfounded accusations distorting my original concern, he said, “If you like just assuming I’m sleeping with someone, go ahead. But I’m not.” Pretty insensitive, isn’t it, to assert I like to think of him sleeping with someone else, or that I would like to believe he had so little feeling for me that he’d have moved on within just a couple weeks.

Tonight I was thinking about just that: how quickly and totally he appeared to be over everything. At no time since we broke up has he ever expressed being sorry, or that he misses me, or that this is hard or in any way an emotional time. He has sent me a list of dumb things to make sure I remember to give back to him and includes a gift I gave him as if it were no more sentimental than anything else on the list, like bottles of vitamins, or unused notebooks. To everything I have said– angry, sad, sentimental, in need of closure, or even just asking him to read a book which might help him understand what went wrong– he has responded with THE WALL OF SILENCE, as if all he saw in those parts of my messages was blank space. I hear from a trusted friend that on facebook he is just exactly the same as he was two years ago, as if he never knew me, and our relationship never happened: his mood is neither up nor down, he’s just the same ol’ guy he always was. Sure, people don’t have to “advertise” their bad relationships online, but I guess what I think I’m seeing here is a guy who hasn’t had a single regret or thought in his head wishing we weren’t broken up or that there was anything he should have done differently to prevent that. I think what I’m seeing here is a guy whose last-relationship demons are already exorcised, who is already over it, and for whom there is no looking back. You know what that usually means: he slept with someone.

But when I wondered if he was sleeping somewhere other than at his parents’ or a friend he intended to move in with, after a great deal of dodging he finally said, “If you like just assuming I’m sleeping with someone, go ahead. But I’m not.” At the time I thought, silly me, yeah, it would seem pretty far-fetched that he found someone to hook up with that fast, but tonight it hit me: the -ING! SleepING with someone. Ah, I get it. In order to understand his answer, passive-aggressively worded no less, I have to interpret the question in the way that he would: sleepING with someone suggests something currently happening and/or ongoing (in fact, this verb tense is called “present continuous”). If he had already slept with someone once or twice and he does not expect it to happen again– he would say, no, I am not sleepING with someone. This is very different than what would be said by a compassionate partner who didn’t sleep with someone; a compassionate partner would not want someone he cares about to worry or feel bad, especially about something that didn’t happen. A person who loves you and cares about being honest with you would answer the spirit of the question directly: “I haven’t slept with anyone.” A person who cared about you might even expand on that to comfort you with something to the effect of, “I am not interested in getting involved with anyone so soon, I have a lot to deal with, etc” or “I told you I loved you and never wanted to be with anyone else, that doesn’t change in a matter of weeks.” But I know the guy I was with, and I know his particular method of lying to me in such a way as to be able to later claim and feel like he’s technically telling the truth: by picking out a single word, interpreting it in his own private way, and answering only that. So it could very well be possible that he had sex with someone else anywhere between the day he left and the day before I wondered if he was sleeping at someone else’s; it could also be possible that he got a blow-job a few times but didn’t have intercourse; it could even be possible that he had sex a few times, got a blow-job a few times, did it upside down standing on his head in the middle of Main Street with five different women in broad daylight, but as long as he didn’t SLEEP with someone (as in catch a few z’s), this guy would say, “If you like just assuming I’m sleeping with someone, go ahead. But I’m not”, and feel 100% confident that he was answering what I wanted to know with the absolute, God’s Honest Truth.

This leads to wondering if it would even be possible for him to find a new partner so fast. But then I remembered when he left another time last year, he told me he had gotten together socially with his high-school friend Becky, a girl he reported having a crush on and wanting to sleep with for years. She was going through some difficulties with her boyfriend at the time, and was considering an estrangement or break-up also. After their meeting, I saw a message she wrote him about “renewing vows” with him. I asked him what that meant, he said he had no idea. That to me sounds pretty hard to believe, such a strong sentiment from one of his oldest friends, someone he had long and lingering feelings for, something that references some kind of special or meaningful pact or agreement he made with her at some time in their past. But, he claimed, he had no idea what she was talking about. She also invited him on a road trip somewhere, somewhere which would involve staying overnight together. I asked him why she would think it’s appropriate to invite him to stay with her somewhere overnight when he supposedly has a girlfriend (whom she never met, besides). Again, he said he had no idea what her intentions may have been or why she would invite him to go somewhere and stay overnight with her. He said because he hasn’t a clue what any of it was about, he was just going to ignore her messages, so I shouldn’t be worried. Though I found it kind of odd that he would just ignore his oldest friend like that rather than give her an answer to her invitation or try to find out what she meant by “renewing their vows” (if he really didn’t know what this meant, which I seriously doubt), I had so many other things to worry about with him I took his advice and forgot about it.

Well now, I must admit, this stuff worries me. Was he leaving me and going to her and talking to her about things and in some certain way that gave her the impression that he was available? Perhaps this shouldn’t matter now, but when I look at how fast this guy (who always and even at the end claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me) seems to be without a regret or care in the world that he shall never lay eyes on me or hear my voice again, I wish, I really, really wish, I knew what was really going on then. I just want to understand what was happening in my relationship. And if he was mincing words when he answered my supposition that he was sleeping somewhere other than where he said he was at the time, I wish, I really, really wish I knew that too. Not because I have any “claim” to him anymore, and not so I can torture myself about it, but so I can finally put to rest the question of whether this guy, who never showed love for me a day in his life but could (and often did!) argue to the contrary for 6, 8, 10 uninterrupted hours if I said I didn’t feel cared about, could this guy have possibly loved me, did he ever even like me, or was everything a lie? Because I’d have to say, if he was flirting with his friend while we were together, if he slept (in any of that word’s connotations) with her or someone else since we broke up, that would explain a great deal: about the speed and ease with which he appears to have gotten over me, about why he will never acknowledge or deal with what he did, about why he isn’t sorry, about why isn’t sad, about why he isn’t even fucking curious about how I’m doing personally (what kind of guy wants to spend the rest of his life with a girl he doesn’t even care to ask, “How have you been?” when he writes her two months after not seeing her anymore?), about why he can go around smiling and joking with people, same ol’ guy he always was, while two months after he moved out I’m still wrecked with grief, loss, and the physical and emotional effects of his abuse on me and my son.

Maybe it is is a far-fetched explanation to suppose the reason he’s over everything as quickly and completely as he appears is because he has already consummated a long-developing affair with his high-school crush with whom he had taken some kind of secret personal vows. The simpler explanation is: he is an abuser, and abusers don’t give a goddamn about anything that isn’t providing direct benefit to themselves. Most especially do they not give a damn about their partners’ need and right to hear the truth about what he did, why he did it, and what, if anything, he is willing to do about it to help her recover from the damage he caused.

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Moving Him Out

24, April 2011 at 5:09 PM (conflicted, sad or sorry for myself) (, , , )

The other day my ex wrote, not to ask if I could be available for him on short notice to get the rest of his things, but to tell me to be available for him on short notice to get the rest of his things. As if it weren’t enough that he feels so entitled to my time, he included a paragraph of things I shouldn’t forget to pack up for him:

“There are some things of mine I was thinking you might not know to pack. I have notecards and notebooks in the desk drawer. My baby book is mixed in with your books. I have my lightbox in the hallway bookcase, and somewhere around there is a sheet of dirty plexiglass and a T-square. Then there’s the Raccoon plate in the kitchen. I could use that gray drawer unit as well. There’s some stuff of mine in the linen closet, but all I can remember besides a bunch of random pills, is the jug of Greased Lightning. There’s probably more I can’t think of now.” (emphasis mine)

The plate was a gift from me (he likes raccoons; it’s a decorative plate, not one for eating off of, though he was unappreciative enough to do that too). While packing his things, I have been truly surprised by how many things there are that I have given him as gifts. As I said in my earlier post Helpful and Unhelpful Reminders about the sad process of packing his belongings, the only gifts I ever got from him were a t-shirt for my birthday just two months after we started dating, and a couple of refrigerator magnets from his favourite coffee shop. Even besides all the other neglects and mistreatments, no wonder I never felt appreciated.

But what bothers me here is in this list of random and generally petty things, he inserts a gift I gave him like it’s just another thing of his he wants to make sure I don’t overlook. It seems so rude. See, if it were me, well for one thing I wouldn’t feel entitled to get back things that were given in a loving spirit, but if I really felt strongly for some reason that I wanted to have it, I might say something like, “And if you don’t mind, could you remember to pack such and such? I’d like to have it to remember you by”. But he does not express any such sentiment. No, it’s just another thing amongst the many, many things I’ve given him over the years for him to use and display in his new bachelor pad.

It kinda makes me sick. People will come in and look around, one of whom someday will be some girl he brings home for the night, and their glances will fall over all these things I picked out or found and gave to him because I wanted to make him happy, feel cared about, thought of, loved. They will learn things about him: a band he likes from a rare poster I acquired for him, how much he likes raccoons and other animals from many assortments of things I gave him, what subjects he’s interested in and what his ideal life is from the many books I’ve found and bought for him, etc. They may even ask or think, “Oh, do you like/are you interested in such-and-such? Me too!” And thus my caring and giving spirit is used to facilitate others getting to know him without me, including the aforementioned future new love-interest. That’s awesome. I never gave him a single thing expecting that it would someday function as decoration in a bachelor’s apartment, or as something for him to do or share with a new girlfriend. The plate was supposed to someday be displayed in our new place, not his new place (maybe someday even their new place). Again, it just seems so rude to remind me to make sure I don’t forget to give him the gifts I gave him!

A friend said expecting me to give him these gifts is “really pushing it”, and that it sounds like he doesn’t really care about the gifts, he just wants to put me through the discomfort of finding all of them and giving them to him (again). They’re probably right. I consider not giving these things to him, but it’s not my style. I guess my ex knows that about me, and is counting on it. What an incredibly insensitive person he was (and still is). How unappreciative he always was (and still is), what an incredible degree of entitlement to my generosity he (still) displays. I should be jumping for joy that I am no longer attached to someone who showed me only violence, neglect, meanness, rudeness, insensitivity, selfishness, who lacked compassion and kindness, who didn’t appreciate but rather felt entitled to my skills, talents and better qualities. But right now I can’t shake feeling disappointed and heartbroken.

Meanwhile he’s irritated (expressed being really put out) that he had to cancel the truck reservation he made without discussing anything with me, because I wasn’t available for him on short notice to get his things. This is a man who is very far away from being a loving, or even semi-functioning, partner. I need to always be reminding myself of that, but it’s so disappointing. I really liked him (when he was in the “nice” phase of his abuse-cycle), and wanted to live with him the rest of my days. He will take away many but mere symbols of my feelings for him and hopes for us; I, not being left even with that, I guess I am left only the many wounds his mistreatment inflicted on me. Thanks, sweetie, but those are gifts I could have lived without.

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Helpful and Unhelpful Reminders

13, April 2011 at 9:34 PM (conflicted, sad or sorry for myself) (, , , , )

The last time I heard from my ex, he sent one of the longest emails I have ever received from him, 556 words outlining his plans for his new life. At the end he offers two brief (totaling a whopping 38 words)– what should we call them, sentiments? condolences?— , the first of which is this: “I love you and part of me just hates this.” I wonder what the other part of him is doing: loving it? feeling neutral about it? thinking about bottlecaps? Part of me… only part of me hates this. I cannot stop re-running this statement over and over in my head. I understand it is best not to have someone like this in my life; before I met him, I wanted someone whose love for me would cause all of him to hate it if he never saw me again. I still do want that.

Expecting him to stop by tomorrow to pick up some more of his things, I busied myself throughout the day gathering up what he brought to my life. Clothes, two toolboxes, a lamp. I resent that he does not have to go through anything like this. He doesn’t have to fold my underwear. He doesn’t have to put presents he gave me in a box for some future boyfriend to look at or play with. There are no presents from him except for a t-shirt he made me for the only birthday he (barely) acknowledged (likely because it was only two months after we started seeing each other). I found lots of shirts in his drawers I never saw him wear, all dress shirts. Well, I never saw him in them because he never took me out on a date. There are small objects all around, things that make a person’s life seem so petty. Guitar picks, pens, receipts. Is this all one’s life amounts to? I found reminders of so many things he always said he was going to do for me or to improve things around the house, but never bothered with: the dresser drawer was never fixed, now it never will be; the coffee pot handle, still broken; stuff from old, half-functional computers never got consolidated, now it never will be. No, he never had the time. All his precious time for straightening out the computers was spent instead complaining about me and all my damn computers, long-distance to a childhood friend of mine. I wondered if I should give him half of the new dishes, there are now way too many for just my son and me and the cupboards are unnecessarily crowded. But then I imagined him doing all the things he learned in this relationship that he should do to make a girl feel special or appreciated, things he never did for me; so for his future girlfriend, a romantic dinner, perhaps, because she is worth it. And as they cuddle in bed the next morning (after wonderful, perfect, comfortable, easy sex like it never was with me, of course), she will sip her coffee out of a cup that had before been next to my bed. Hell no. It is bad enough that when he brings her home next winter, he will pull off one of the mittens I knitted him so he can stroke her cheek while gazing happily into her (much younger, of course, and more) beautiful eyes. She will playfully tug on the ends of his scarf, which also was knitted by me. She might even say, “This is a really nice scarf, where did you get it?” And at this rare demand on his memory which might bring him to a vague association with me, what else can he say but those three little words he said to me more than any others: “I can’t remember.” Oh, and “our cat” for the past sixteen months is now “my cat” for the next sixteen years. Even she had anxiety and developed separation issues in response to his sudden disappearance, and she has a brain the size of a walnut.

THIS SUCKS.

He isn’t having to think about or make decisions about any such things, and I hate him for it– for being able to skate away from it all completely protected from anything which could threaten to tug at any heartstring he may have. Just a few clicks on the internet, and I and our life together essentially vaporises. He will never find a stray hair of mine on a pillow at his parents’ house. He will never find a lost earring of mine under the nighttable at his new bachelor pad. His experience is sterilised, completely scrubbed free of any unexpected and poignant reminder of my existence, cleansed of the toxicity of me, a disease which apparently attacked his brain and paralysed him for just exactly the same amount of time he spent in my life (at least that’s what he tells other people: he is not responsible for anything, “things” just “happened”). While I’ll be nothing but a few amongst the hundreds of photos on his computer of all his other ex-girlfriends, crushes, their cats, and other projects he involved himself with, I will never have the luxury of pretending he didn’t exist. I’ll probably never stop finding scraps of paper everywhere, little notes he hid all over the house (he wouldn’t give them to me directly, I just always had to go on a sort of Easter-egg hunt) about how sorry he is about such-and-such, about how he didn’t mean to do some other thing, about how he “probably” (probably??) should have told me what he liked about me before it was too late. There are so many of these notes. Passive, half-hearted apologies, continuations of arguments, compliments or romantic expressions which came only AFTER I was crying for hours the night before about why he won’t just tell me the truth: he doesn’t love me, he doesn’t seem to even like me.

Oh yeah, his second sentiment? condolence? from his last message: “I was thinking about being with you in the car the other day, and I think what I was feeling was what you once described as ‘coming home.'” (referring to the feeling a person has upon returning from a long trip or from far away, the sort of exhaustion turned to relief, renewed energy and comfort when you are re-immersed in familiarity. I once said I was having a feeling similar to that in his arms– after another of his returns, after another of his moving-aways…) I must infer, after reading 556:38 words outlining his plans for his new life which only part of him hates to get on with, that this sensation moves him very little to not at all. I wish I could be touched, I wish I could be moved. But concessions don’t inspire me, the paucity of emotion expressed does not infect me with similar feelings. I just look at it and feel… disconnected. After all, he can only feel like he was “coming home” because he chose to go significantly away. No one need tell me he just wasn’t into me. I read that book the very next day:

“A man who wants to make a relationship work will move mountains to keep the woman he loves. If he’s not calling you to tell you he loves you and wants you back, it should only be because he’s showing up at your door to do it in person. If he’s not trying to romance your socks off with dates, flowers, and poetry, it should only be because he’s too engrossed with his couples counseling workbooks and is prioritising getting back on the right track. If he’s not doing any of that, he may love you, he may miss you, but ultimately he’s just not that into you.”

“Remember, the only reason he can miss you is because he’s choosing, every day, not to be with you.”

“Just remember [this] is the same person who, not long before, looked you in your beautiful face, took full stock of you and all your qualities, and told you that he was no longer in need of your company.”

Ouch.

But it helped me keep packing. Afterwards I watched the last movie I checked out from the library that I got for us to watch together. It’s due tomorrow, which means he has been gone a month. Having now uneasy associations with originally imagining we’d have watched it together, I waited until the last day to watch it alone. (Turned out to be about loss and coping and monsters inside us, but then at the end it seemed to forget what it was about and just got weird and stupid. Exactly?) Tomorrow the last movie he asked me to get for us from the library will get placed on the hold shelf, I couldn’t stop it while it was in-transit. I guess I’ll just let it sit there until it expires. A book he had a few months ago sits on my account marked “returned” but inexplicably not disappearing off the list. All these things keep popping up, reminding, “Here he was, this guy who didn’t give a damn about you.” And he still doesn’t have to give a damn. He never has to think about me if he doesn’t want to. He never even has to come near this neighbourhood. I have to live in it every day. His disinterest in me, his indifference toward me, his neglect, and the pain it caused every day; his constant goingawayness, his absenteeism. He’ll never see the nightgown he never saw me in. No, only I get to be reminded of that, only I get to be reminded how if he had cared at all about me, it wouldn’t be the nightgown he never saw me in in the first place. Unlike he was in mine, I was never woven into the fabric of his life.

Sometimes I think I hate being me, because it sucks to invite others in and to care about things as much as I do, to be always living in truth. But then I think, it must suck to be so dull and closed inside, to live in such a way that denies, that leaves people so easy to avoid or forget about, and eventually easy to replace. When it seemed he was wholly unfamiliar with a significant part of the letter I sent to finally end things with him, and I asked if he even read it at all, he told me he only just “glanced through it quickly.” He wouldn’t give up his time– his precious, precious time– to give proper attention to even that. What a disrespect to the time I spent writing it. What a dishonour to the last two years of both of our lives.

I remember before I met him, I dreamed of being with someone who cared, who would be kind and compassionate, who would be loving and have appreciation and enthusiasm for the little things in life. I exchanged that dream for someone who was never so much as even curious toward me and could never be bothered for anything more than the use of his drivers license; who chose, every day, even every day he was here, not to be with me; who looked me in my beautiful face, took full stock of me and all my qualities, and told me with his actions every day that he was never in need of my company. I mean, that’s the bottom line, isn’t it. It was wrong for me to give up on myself.

Correction: I found a second present my ex gave me, two refrigerator magnets from his favourite coffee shop; however, another fun thing I came across which I resent having to deal with as part of the breakup while he just gets to go have a squeaky-clean, brand new life: dried urine under the toilet seat, I mean…? Geez, totally not worth it.

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Steps of Accepting Responsibility for Abuse

10, April 2011 at 12:45 AM (sad or sorry for myself, solution-oriented) (, , , , , , )

If you would like to print out a version without my comments, please see the page Steps of Accepting Responsibility for Abuse.

I just found this a few days ago. I cried and cried as I read it. I remembered myself asking for so many of these things so many times over the years, I remembered the last proposal I made to save our relationship and how it included so many of the things below; I remembered all of his broken promises to do some of these things, and reflected on how my final plea for resolving our issues remains only hinted at because he blew me off repeatedly when I asked if he wanted to hear it. Although I was never as thorough nor could I have been as concise as the outline below, I cried also because I felt validated and proud of myself that my instincts about what I needed and deserved were not only reasonable but correct. I cried because I felt stupid for all my confidence, because I believed there were things about him that to this day are still feeding my faith that he has the strength do this. Finally, I cried– and I still do as I read it again– because I “hear” him objecting, “I can’t do this, I don’t think I should have to do this, I’m not capable, it’s too much, it’s too hard. It’s not worth it. Our relationship is not worth it. (You are not worth it.)”

Adapted from youarenotcrazy.com

Steps of Accepting Responsibility for Abuse

If he claims he’s “changed” but isn’t doing the steps below, he’s not really changing. He’s manipulating you.

1. Admit all his abusive behaviour. This includes emotional, sexual, or physical abuse of present or past partners. He must stop suggesting you are “acting hurt” because you are unstable, weak or stupid, and stop implying you’re trying to turn people against him because you’re jealous or resentful. He must acknowledge the good in you and any other person he has abused, rather than try to save face by insisting all his “abusees” are instigators or bad seeds. He must stop all denying and minimising, including questioning and rebuffing your memory of the abuse.

2. Acknowledge his behaviour is a choice, not a loss of control. He needs to recognise that during each incident he gives himself permission to be abusive, and then he continues to choose how much to let himself go.

3. Acknowledge that his abusive behaviour was wrong, unconditionally. He must identify his typical justifications, and admit they are just excuses to be abusive; like “I just lost control” or “I was just trying to get you to listen!” He can no longer try to defend his abuse by pointing out how much you get on his nerves (emphasising how victimised he is by your “annoying” behaviour). He needs to explain in detail about why his behaviours are totally unacceptable, stop blaming you, and make a heartfelt apology. He must stop asserting that your reactions to the abuse are abusive to him. He must admit he knows that your self-defense, blunt honesty about his hurtful actions, or refusal to be bullied is NOT abuse.

4. Recognise the impact his abuse has had on you, and show empathy. He needs to discuss in detail the immediate and enduring effects his abuse has had on you, including your fear, distrust, depression, anger, and loss of freedom and other rights. He must face you to validate your pain, knowing fully he caused it. During this empathetic description of the damage he has done, he can’t revert to self-pity, talking about how painful the experience has been for him. Apologising is critical; but he also has to recognise that being genuinely sorry is just the beginning, and meaningless unless he seriously examines the swath of destruction he has caused.

5. Make amends for the damage he’s done. He has to develop a sense that he is in debt to you and to your children as a result of his abusiveness. He can begin reparation by being consistently caring and supportive, talking with people whom he has misled in regard to the abuse in admitting to them he lied, putting your needs before his own without expecting to be congratulated for it, and many more actions related to cleaning up the emotional and literal messes that his behaviours have caused. As he does this, he needs to accept that he may never be able to fully compensate you. Identify in detail his pattern of controlling behaviours and entitled attitudes. He needs to speak in detail about the day-to-day tactics of abuse he has used. Accept the need to give up his privileges and do so, this means saying goodbye to double-standards.

6. Accept that overcoming abusiveness is likely to be a life-long process. At no time can he claim his work is done by saying, “I’ve bent enough”, or complain that he’s sick of hearing about his abusiveness or control and ask when you’re planning or going to get past it. He needs to come to terms with the reality of working on his issues for good, and that you may feel the effects of what he has done for many years. Equally important, he must be able to identify his underlying beliefs and values that have driven those behaviours, such as considering himself entitled to constant attention, looking down on you as inferior, or believing that men aren’t responsible for their actions if provoked by a partner.

7. He must treat you well from now on. He must honour a commitment to never repeat his abusive, manipulative, coercive, belittling behaviours. His improvement is not dependent on your good behaviour– such as saying that he won’t call you names as long as you don’t raise your voice to him. If he backslides, he cannot justify his abusive behaviours by saying, “Yeah, I screwed up, but for three years I behaved, don’t I get credit for that? You expect me to be perfect?” as if his good behaviour is chips to spend on occasional abuse.

8. Abandon his distorted, negative picture of you and swap it with a more empathetic view. He must stop asserting that your reactions to his abuse are abusive to him, proving he’s justified or excused. He must recognise his thought pattern that focuses on and exaggerates his grievances against you. As a result, his perceptions of your weaknesses tend to be quite harsh and unforgiving. He needs to compliment you and pay attention to your strengths and abilities.

9. Be willing to be accountable for his actions both past and future. He is no longer above reproach, and this attitude must be replaced with a willingness to accept feedback and criticism for any backsliding.

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