Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Understand...Just a Tiny Bit

I'm a lucky woman. No one has ever raised a hand to me. Yes, my feelings have been deeply hurt, and I mean deeply and very recently hurt, but I've never been subjected to physical abuse.

So, when I read about how hard it is for a woman to leave a physically abusive spouse, I sympathize but I don't feel her turmoil in my gut. I've never been there, and thankfully so.

I've been married for almost twenty years and I sincerely hope that we will stay together. It's not that I see something bad coming, but you just never know. I know that divorce can be terribly painful, but I only have an intellectual understanding of this pain.

Well, now I understand--just a tiny, tiny bit more--why people stay in abusive relationships, be they physical or mental.

Yesterday, I was working with two of my former associates. We were hired by a third party, meaning each one of us accepted the contract independently, not knowing with whom we were going to work.

One of the two people in question, although not the person who ultimately made me feel so horrible that I couldn't stay in the group, has been psychologically abusive to me over the years--not every day, but with such ferocity that I find it hard to shake off the effects of things that she has said. She can be this way with everyone, certainly not just me. It's just that, coupled with what my other associate said to me in September, I just don't have the psychological power to shrug off her outbursts anymore. Anyway, I was working with her yesterday. She was very pleasant but understandably somewhat distant. I am no longer part of the gang.

Our work day was demanding, but everything went quite smoothly. Coolly and smoothly. On breaks, in the past we would leave the room to go and chat. This time, I just went and read by myself or surfed on my computer. By the end of the day, I felt quite alone. Not that she had been nasty to me in any way. She treated me like she treats colleagues with whom she has only a professional relationship. No histrionics, no nastiness, but no friendship either.

Did I like the way we sometimes interacted while we were associates in the same group? No. That's why I left (although I could have put up with her mood swings for awhile longer--it was another associate who treated me with such contempt who was the real cause of my departure).

But boy did I feel lonely yesterday. And I understood why people find it hard to leave, even if the situation is abusive.

My drive home took over two hours. I was famished, ate supper and went upstairs to watch TV. I started crying and asked my husband to come upstairs and just stay with me. He watched wrestling and I read a book. He held my hand. I feel better today.


  1. yeah...and the abuse never starts with someone walloping you...It starts with a kind of manipulative downgrading of the other person...they (the abuser) subtley demean...then complain....then withdraw...then the abused tries to 'fix' things...because it is normal for people to reach out to the one they love...the abuser responds...but over time...the abuse gets worse, and then the abused withdraws from normal friends and family and it gets to the point where the only person they are interacting with is the abuser...who is like a great big roller coaster. And the abused thinks there is something wrong with them because the abuse has become normalized. At this point the abused is usually isolated. You had someone to go home to. You don't love that woman and you don'thave children with them. And...when it comes down to it, there was no threat of violence should you leave and you have a healthy self esteem. look at it that way and it takes immense self will to leave. Good post.

  2. Thanks, Christine.

    I really want to make it clear that my situation, though painful, is nothing compared to people who have no one to turn to but the abuser. I just got the tiniest peak into that horrible world.

  3. Sorry you had a rough day, and I am so glad your husband was there to comfort you. Hugs!

  4. I'm so sorry about you experiencing this awful sense of loneliness. I have recently ended a very long term friendship and even though I know it was for the best for my mental health, I have often thought of how lonely I am now as a result. Then I start second-guessing myself. It's very easy to forget why we do the things we do when other emotions step in front and center.
    I am glad you're feeling better and have your husband for support.

  5. I am glad your husband was there to hold your hand. We all need that at times. This incident confirms how right you were to take the decision to leave the group. If you had any doubts get rid of them now. The universe is sending you a clear message.

    You are strong , you will survive the buffeting from that decision and emerge stronger. And you can NEVER be lonely while you have the blogosphere on your side. Love and light xx

  6. I know exactly what you mean. I have a couple of people like this in my life, too. One of them is still in my life solely due to a feeling of obligation and guilt (I've known her forever, and she's miserable as hell, has a very lonely life) and the other one is my mother's significant other. Both of them have said things to me on occasion that cut me to the bone. I can't do anything about my mother's choice of a mate, but why do I keep this other person in my life? I honestly don't know. I know that I've been the quintessential "good girl" for most of my life and being ruthlessly self-protecting goes against everything I have been taught, sick as it is. I guess if you can't make a total break, for whatever reason, just stick to limiting your exposure to these people. I'm sorry you felt so lonely, but it sounds like you have a great husband there. :)

  7. Our society diminishes the impact that toxic people in the workplace have. Kind people -- the live and let live types -- are so often advised to just "rise above" or some such drivel. (Been there; heard that.) I don't know what to make of it all. It always serves our employers when we are so kind as to "rise above," and therefore it can keep paychecks coming, which is a good thing, but it's in no way simple or easy to do, and there can be lasting hurt that burrows deep into our psyches. And if we share our feelings, often we're told we need to buck up. (Subtext: You're weak. That makes you feel as wrong as the perpetrator.) It stinks. It's wrong. Thanks for sharing your vulnerability and this dicey, subtle form of abuse. I'm glad you escaped. I'm glad you took care of yourself.