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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Coercion in a past relationship (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Coercion in a past relationship
Heather
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Okay, but can you try and let that go?

In other words, you set a limit about his voicing these opinions about you. He refuses to respect that limit. So, your next sound step is to remove yourself from the situation. There is nothing about that which is hurtful.

What he is probably feeling if and when you do that is pissed he can't escalate like he'd like to, which is really about hurting you. Walking away from someone who is doing us harm -- especially when we have made clear they are, and they refuse to stop -- is a caring, gentle and loving response. You are not hurting him back, you are not escalating. You are simply refusing to participate.

If he reacts badly to that, okay. He gets to have those reactions. His feelings are his to work through and deal with and work out. If you need to, then you explain when setting a limit that if he does not respect it, you will nonparticipate in that way. he may feel it is disrespectful, but you think not respecting your boundaries is, so there, okay, you're both even if he sees it that way, whatevs. And if when you do walk out, later he goes there again, you repeat,

In time, chances are awfully good that if you hold that line, he will not keep reacting the same way. And if he does things like get hurt himself, bottle himself, that's his stuff, not yours. he's the person who needs to deal with that stuff, clearly.

Maybe think of going with these patterns as enabling behavior you know isn't healthy for either of you and you don't want? Walking away is one way to refuse to enable this.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Thanks for that. It's nice to hear someone else's opinion that me doing that kind of thing isn't a mean thing to be doing. I've been trying, and he's definitely been getting the picture, but slowly. And occasionally complaining that he can't say what he wants to me.

What I've mostly done is just refuse to say anything, after I said I wasn't willing to talk about something. I did that as a kid, too, and both my parents would say stuff about "and don't look at me like that! You just stand there and don't say anything, you look Straight Through Me, do you know how hurtful that is, do you not care how anyone else feels, you have no care or concern for anyone else, have a bit of Respect!!!"

Walking away is definitely a better response. I was just afraid of how much more "disrespectful" that would be interpreted as. And also, having grown up where I wasn't allowed to say certain things that I really needed to say, I haven't been wanting to do that to anyone else.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Redskies
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I said to my dad that that guy was really not good all in his own right, and so it really wasn't my fault, and he actually said something like "but you know it wasn't your fault anyway..." Yeh. He honestly forgets half of what he says, and nearly all of the hurtful things. So that's done, and at least if it comes up in a negative way again, I know I've said it and that my dad's talking hot air. And I'll walk away if he rants; seeing what I wrote written down helped me process that no, these things being said to me are not and never were reasonable, are about other people's issues and not me, and I don't have an obligation to put up with it.

On the other hand, he's been going through a bad time himself, and things he said tonight hit my "mental-health-alert" button strongly, so I'll be going looking for help for depression to put in front of him. It never ends (needs a slightly eye-roll resigned slightly smiley smiley).

The relationship I was originally writing about in this thread, I'm beginning to feel a bit more healthy about that. Heather saying "maybe he wasn't so caring and understanding" and the things around that is being really helpful. The general thought before now was that he'd been really good to me in the early days, and it's really helpful to get a perspective that that might not be the case, and that abusers can use the opportunity of seeming to take care of the damage caused by others. It just took a while to sink in. I'm not even sure exactly what I'm asking for here, but Heather, do you have any more to say about that kind of thing, to help me get my head round it? Or... does the Lundy Bancroft talk about that kind of thing? It's not listed in my regional library system, so I'd have to buy it.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Redskies
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Just wondering if maybe Heather had anything else potentially useful to say about the "abuser seeming to be caring about other abusers' abuse" thing.

Also, I'm finding it tough trying to exist/build a life in the field he was in and where he made me feel very put-down, and am feeling very not-jolly right now.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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Redskies: good to see you. Can you clarify your first question for me?

Can you also talk to me a little bit about why you feel like the field you are going into and he was also is feels so impacted by him having been in it, too?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Re my first q, does my post directly above that little one explain it better?

Uh. The thing I love was "his thing". It was always So important to him, and what he wanted to do with his life. I didn't know back then that it was what I wanted to do with my life, too. He never acknowledged my ability or value in it, never really supported what I did - maybe in a patronizing kind of playing-at-it-for-fun, it's-not-really-important, not-like-what-I'm-doing way. He would always want to talk about it with me and want to hear my opinions, but when I said something, he mostly would not respond to what I said at all, but go on talking about whatever he'd been thinking about it. The rare times he responded to what I said, it was when I'd said something that he wanted to hear, that fed his own thoughts and development. After a long time of that, I guess I internalised that my opinions and thoughts were worthless (because someone who was supposed to value me barely acknowledged them).

I recently returned to the area we were both in at the time, which doesn't help. Lots of associations and memories. And many of the same people. It's very much an everyone-knows-everyone kind of thing (although he's not in this area at the moment, happily). Just the topic itself can be painful, which is tough, as it's also what I love. I'm also struggling with my self-belief around it, and believing that anyone else will think I'm any good (which matters, because you get on by at least some people recognising that you're good and giving you opportunities). Heather, I think you'd know the kind of thing I'm on about, but I'm trying to be not-too-specific because of anonymity.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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Do you have other people in your life and work who ARE supportive of you in your chosen field and who recognize what I am sure, because you simply seem awesome in general, whatever unique things you bring to the field?

Per the first question, I confess, I still feel a bit lost with what you mean. It is the end of the day for me, so you may be the unfortunate recipient of my tired brain at the moment. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Oh, that's one hell of a compliment, thank you. Plus I maybe needed it about now.

No problem with the question; I might not be explaining it very well. Can't think of a better way right now, so I might think on it rather than blabbering on.

I think I have a severe lack of supportive people generally. There are very few people in my personal life who are close and without huge issues in that relationship; in my professional, I moved a few months ago, away from where I was beginning to build something. Several people I worked with said I'd be great and they'd give me great references, but now, in a different place, I feel overwhelmed and scared and kind of back where I was 8 years ago, and needing to work through a big pile of baggage to start over. Though, kudos to me here, I did get into the biggest-name appropriate thing in my area [Smile] Just finding it hard to carry on taking this large number of scary necessary steps, and petrified I'll mess up or won't be good enough in the opportunities I've got.

My partner is supportive of my professional goals, and takes my enjoyment and committment really seriously, which is nice. They don't know much about the field themself, though, so that's a personal-support rather than a person-in-the-know saying "you can so do this".

I find it hard that people in general presumably think that the guy I was with is/was a nice guy. All of my age-group friendships from the old days, in that field, have long fallen into abeyance because I couldn't deal with having contact with people who still had friendly relationships with him. I was living further away, and he got all of the friends (who were originally mine). I don't think any are currently in this area, but still. I didn't want to put them in any bad positions, and had no idea how to even begin to explain how awful I find this guy or even say anything without sounding like I have a grudge. And none of them contacted me in any way after the relationship ended.

Going back to the more professional-contact people, no-one's mentioned him yet, but I'm almost braced for it. I really don't like the idea.

I'm not staying in this area permanently, but I do need to figure out how to be a bit more ok with it all so that I can get the training and experience I need to get into the course I want to get into. I'm planning on leaving the country [Smile] It's right for me personally, but it also suits the situation, because it's a small world, and in this country, he may well have access to enough ears to tank my career before it's even started. Somewhere where less people know him would be better. And no, he's not even remotely influential, but words in the ears of people-you-know can do a lot of damage. Mostly he just makes me feel so rubbish about myself as concerns this field that I don't want him anywhere near it, by association, mention, thought or otherwise.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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You know, on the fear-of-messing-up piece, I just wrote something in my own journal yesterday I'll share with you that might help you out (unless you don't give one whit about baseball, then, maybe not so much. But if you don't know, the Cubs are pretty routinely, over many decades, the worst team in major league baseball):

"Growing up, one of my favorite things to do with my Dad was to go to Cubs games. And not just because it meant hanging out with my Dad, and also in spite of the fact that when they played the Phillies, my father rooted for them instead which resulted in things being thrown at us. I cant decide if I liked doing this in spite of or because of the time when I was thisclose to catching a ball, some dude behind us grabbed it from me, and my father went into an invective that seemed to last for DAYS about what kind of putz someone was for taking a fly ball from a little girl. Probably both.

Even though I left Chicago over a decade ago now, I remain, and always will, a diehard Cubs fan.

If you assume I care at all about baseball, or even understand how the game is supposed to be played, you may be wondering why.

I have my reasons, but one of them is that the Cubs provided me and provide me still an amazing lesson in owning your suckitude. The Cubs never really acted like they sucked as much as they do, nor did we or any of their other fans. Sometimes it was fun just to see what new, creative way theyd blow a game: they have never seemed to run out of ways to do that, which strikes me as its own genius, really.

Every now and then, the Cubs would actually win or at least actually play well, and that was awesome, I suppose, but I feel like the times when that happened we were all so busy looking for pigs flying overhead or the four horsemen of the apocalypse that we, Cubs fans, were always distracted enough to not get the full impact of the amazing lack of total failure.

The Cubs, especially to me as a kid, made sucking actually seem kind of cool. Like a rebellion, in some ways Oh, winning. That is so last year. And the year before. For everyone else, anyway. Its cheap to be a winner: we aim to LOSE, because we are THAT MUCH COOLER THAN YOU. but mostly they sucked, and then the next game, they got back out there and they kept playing. And thats been how its been for the whole of my life. Players keep actually joining the team and seem to be excited about it. Fans still fill Wrigley, and the jeers and cheers are full of equal amounts of love. The Cubs seem to basically give suckitude a hug, a kiss, slap it on the *** than have a beer together. I think thats pretty super-amazing.

Ive been thinking about the Cubs lately, because I feel like I forgot these lessons in sucking they taught me so generously. When I was younger, they informed a lot of what I did. I think, because of the Cubs, no lie, I was a lot more fearless than I would have been otherwise, and a lot less afraid to try things I might lose, fail or just plain suck at.

Lately, I feel like I have been failing a whole hell of a lot. Heck, last week, I had a much-needed staycation planned, and I even managed to louse that up. One assumes there are no grades given for recess because no one could possibly fail recess. Clearly, those school systems have not met me. I totally failed recess last week.

I keep feeling like Im watching some of the people around me excel at things I have tried and tried to do well, but either failed at orwell, failed by my ridiculous standards. Mind, some of these things are things where I just wouldnt be down with, or have time for, doing the same things to have that same level of achievement. Others are things where someone else is simply more invested in winning or succeeding at them than I am. But with other things, those conditions dont apply. Some of these things are things I very much wanted to do very well with, or well with consistently, and tried the same things but got different, less awesome results.

Blue, because Blue loves me and is lovely to me, says Im being too hard on myself. That may well be, of course, as Ive a bit of a reputation for that sort of thing. A couple other friends of mine roll their eyes, and with love, not malice or dismissal.

At the same time, my standards are my standards, and sometimes they arent actually higher than other peoples standards. By whatever yardstick were using, I feel like I keep failing and have failed a lot in the last year or two with a lot of things.

What I want, though, is to be able to allow for that. I want to have it be okay for me to fail sometimes, or even a lot. After all, I try a lot of things, constantly, unceasingly, so its not like I can be amazing at all of them or amazing at them all the time, nor should I have to be. It needs to be okay with anyone, but most of all, with me for me to suck. Ideally, Id like to get to a place where its not only okay, but I can have a Cubbish sort of Zen about it and actually embrace sucking.

I mean, its not like messing up, or not hitting the highest bar or just being meh at anything doesnt have its benefits or offers us nothing. It offers us plenty: humility, patience for ourselves and others, compassion, humanity, humor, and the ability to have a life that is about something more than achievement or whatever we count as success. It keeps us playing the game, as it were, to play the game; to be in the process, not the product. Im sure it offers more than that, those things are just off the top of my head, and Im not where Id like to be with it yet, remember. I feel confident that when I get to that enlightened place where feeling like a failure is nothing close to the end of the world, a place of ***-slapping comfort, good cheer and one more reason to just keep going back out on that field, picking up that bat, and trying again, Ill have a lot more benefits to report.

But in the meantime, I kind of suck. And dammit to hell, I am going to get okay with that being the case sometimes if Ive got to fly to those now-unaffordable bleachers and make myself positively sick on cotton candy, cheap beer and completely misplaced optimism towards a team doing well that never has to make it happen. "

[ 11-10-2011, 08:48 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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On another piece you brought up, I think one of the very toughest parts of being in or surviving abuse is that abusive people are often charismatic people. And what that means is that people who don't know them well, or didn't have the kind of relationship with them where abuse or control came out to play, as it were, will tend to only see the charisma, and not see the abuser/unhealthy/angry person.

I know that for me, growing up for a while in an abusive home, this was probably the thing that was hardest for me: it took years and years for me to find someone to actually help me out of that situation, because the front the abusive people in my family had was just so darn convincing to others. And of course, most people also don't want to deal with knowing someone is abusive, so even when they do know or suspect, denial can reign supreme. On top of that there's the people who do know or have a clue who think denial is the way to keep themselves safe.

I have no easy answers for that one, because I don't think there are any. It might help, though, to recognize that even if everyone in the world thought that guy was the greatest guy ever, that doesn't change the truth of your experience with him one bit. I get that emotionally we obviously want others to get it, but that isn't something we actually NEED, you know? In other words, we can keep healing even without it, even though, for sure, the more support we have, the easier it can be.

But it also sounds like you might benefit from making some extra effort to create a wider net of people in your field per a social circle. Think you can do that?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Ideally, I want to create that wider net. Unfortunately, being scared tends to get in the way of that, but I'm trying, kinda slowly. It also overlaps with some other personal stuff I'm trying to deal with.

I know that just trying to accept that people have the opinions they have is about the only option, but it still feels rubbish sometimes. I suppose I feel like I'm having to fight him in my head in my loved/professional field, and I just wonder if there's anything that I could do/think to make that a bit easier on me.

I'll think for a bit on the previous stuff. And I know nothing about baseball, but I'm always happy to learn new stuff and discover other folks' perspectives [Smile]

I still can't think of how to explain what I was asking better, so rather than blethering on and getting nowhere, maybe I'll try:

earlier, Heather wrote this: "Maybe he wasn't so caring and understanding? Or maybe it was easy for him to be the way he was when someone else was the perpetrator? Something tough to deal with is that often enough, people who are SO QUICK to "rescue" people in abuse, or apparently help people heal from another abuser are abusers themselves. It can, unfortunately, be a bit of a power trip for them.

Your theories sound plausible to me, too.And that can be part of what I was just talking about, too: a way of convincing oneself that one is a better person than one actually is."

That seems very helpful to me, like it's getting to something, but I can't describe well exactly what. Do you have anything to expand what you were saying there?

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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I can say a little more.

It's very common for controlling people to be or present themselves as "white knights." After all, saving someone else from things they can -- and probably should -- save themselves from often IS a form of control, and a very effective one at that, because everyone usually gets on board with presenting those actions as automatically loving and philanthropic.

Think about this, too: someone who "saves" someone from another abuser/controlled gets some pretty great cover, right? It makes it very easy for them to look like and be seen as a healthy, caring person, and also gives them a really easy in to someone's heart and life.

And no doubt, some of this is self-delusion. After all, someone helping you out with and through something who does that while asking nothing of you is one thing. But a sexual/romantic relationship always involves self-interests on everyone's part. It's not philanthropy.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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I think that really hits it. That's what I feel happened to me, and it looks so good from the outside that I wouldn't know how to even start describing what it was really like. It was so good that it was hard for even me to finally identify what it was really about.

I'm sorry if I seem to be flogging this. It's just, this has been over for more than 3 years, and while I got over the absence of the person pretty quickly, I've never got over how he treated me. I've also hardly known anyone who actually seemed to grasp what I was bothered about - I tried 2 different counselors in my uni support system, one of them was awful and blethered the whole time about other break-up situations she'd come across that were nothing to do with what I was telling her, and the other didn't say anything helpful at all. About 3-4 months after the final things happened, I stopped talking to anyone about it, because there didn't seem any point, and I didn't want to keep going on about my dead past relationship. Only getting acknowledgement, understanding and concern from my current partner opened the door to me thinking that there's really very good reason why it was and is an issue, so I'm finally getting to open that up and try to "get over" - or at least get healthy with - it.

I wish that I still didn't feel so upset and angry when I come across anything to do with him. Even seeing the bus to his old house really got me. That one's probably out of my system now, because they're a super-frequent service and all round that city, and I had the fortune to be there with my partner once and fully let rip with my feelings "f*ing bus!!!" under my breath whenever one passed, and after about 8, it got easier. Everything's like that. And I feel silly that it is, like by this point I'm supposed to be pretending that everything's all right, and it's really not.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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You know, a bunch of years ago, I went back to the areas where I grew up, and I steeled myself to go to places that were triggering for me, places where I'd experienced trauma or had something about trauma established with them.

I sat in each of them, and did a little mental making-peace exercise, kind of clearing the place from what happened there, and realizing those places were not just about my trauma. For instance, in a home in which I had terrible experiences of abuse, there were then, clearly, happy children living there.

I also took a photo of each of those places, which seemed to help me out.

Not sure if something like that would help you, but it did help me a lot. I was pretty amazed at how easy it was for me to let go of a lot of stuff I had with those places. (Caveat: no less than 15 years had passed since I had trauma at those places, so.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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I think I'm going to go off on one here.

I'm just so Angry that he could look so much like he was caring for me and being awesome and dealing with this baggage-laden person, when really, he Assaulted me, repeatedly; completely tanked my self-belief in what I really loved, basically taking it away from me for years, and setting back my career by at least 5; treated me like s* or like I wasn't there when I wasn't exactly what he wanted; now when I'm trying to get in to what I want to do, He's done it first, being successful, making connections, getting on; he couldn't even treat me or describe me to others in any way resembling who I really am - his friends always seemed surprised when I could offer good advice...I'm sorry, why is that surprising, have you Met me??! ; he couldn't get his sorry self together to leave the relationship, but instead treated me badly, and extremely misrepresented me to the woman he left me for; said how awesome the "honesty and openness" was to someone else, that woman, while still Supposedly In A Relationship With Me, where he had previously agreed honesty and openness, and said how great that was; Chased and Started A Relationship With Someone Else while My Mother was in hospital and nearly died, and Felt Sorry For Himself that he was bothered with hospitals when I was there far more and it was My Mother; told me he loved me for weeks while telling someone else how amazing she was; carried on a relationship, and sex, with me under false pretences, for Years, because he clearly Did Not Love Me; expected me to pay for things and never had any cash when I was much poorer than he, and acted like I didn't know what having to do jobs for money was like, when I'd done much worse than him, and acted offended when I mistakenly thought he was paying for something for me, when he owed me money; never gave me a chance to see his face at any point once I knew something was up, denying me the chance to just look at him while thinking of him differently.

I really hate him. I'm kind of sorry to use that language here, but it's how I feel. He's the only person I've ever wished harm to, and I could never imagine me being able to feel that way before it happened. I still wish him harm. I know I'm supposed to move on, but I just find it so hard that he did so much damage to me while he just walked right into another presumably happy relationship and a developing career, and I'm blasted. I had little good else to hold onto, and he had a stable and (apparently) trauma-free background. It just all stinks. If he'd been so hurt by the relationship, he couldn't have done those things.

Anyone wondering "why is this person writing all this here...?", I did journal years ago, but figured out it just made me more introverted and isolated, so I stopped. At least here there are other people in some sense. And if I didn't need to say all this still, then I guess I wouldn't be saying it.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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It's okay to rant here, but we will always ask users not to discuss doing anyone harm.

Is this something you just wanted to write out to get out then have be read, or would you like a response?

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Redskies
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Quite understandably. And I wasn't going to take that track any further.

I don't think most of it needs a response, I suppose. Sorry for the rant. I don't know what anyone could say anyway. I don't know, maybe a response might help, I seem to have been very short of anyone prepared to give any kind of properly supportive response to any of this.

If you have any suggestions for getting past feeling in the rant-space, that could be good. I liked what you said you did, thanks. I'm not sure how it could practically be applied to every situation I have trouble with, but it's definitely something that helps me go forward.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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No, you don't need to be sorry, I just never want to give feedback when someone just wants to let loose. Feels like sometimes that can inadvertently step on what someone wants and needs, that's all.

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Redskies
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I do kind of feel silly now. I usually don't hold onto things much and work through them, but clearly I'm holding on to this badly, and it would be better to be gone, because it only affects me, you know? Rather than anyone else.

I think I would like some feedback. I think I'm used to saying "no, that's ok", because I think I'm used to thinking that someone won't want to give feedback.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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I don't think any of this is silly, Redskies. Emotional abuse is like every other kind: it hurts people, and getting hurt creates wounds, and like all other kinds of wounds, they take time to heal.

I don't think it can ever just be "gone." However, as time passes and we work through our feelings and processes, it can have less impact, we can be more at peace with hurt in the past AS in the past and leave a lot of it there so we can move into the present without it weighing us down. Know what I mean?

I'm happy to give more feedback, no worries.

One thing that leapy out at me there was your assumption he's in a happy relationship. If this person hasn't changed, chances are good that at least one person -- his partner -- isn't so happy. That obviously sucks for them, but even the idea he is seems iffy to me. People who can't interact in healthy ways with other people don't tend to be happy. They might be kind of blissfully ignorant, kind of, but you know, when people like that do go and get help, they will tend to voice that they knew something was really not okay with them for a long time.

That is not to say you have to forgive this person or feel sorry for him, etc. I'd just not assume you're the only one with a burden, here. Besides, you don't have to live with him 24/7 anymore: he still does.

Too, his friends acting like they were? Again, we're talking about the friends of what sounds like an unhealthy person. Personally, I'd try not to give them so much weight, if you can.

I also think you can strongly feel dislike towards this person AND move on. I don't think they are mutually exclusive. I also think it is 100% okay for you to feel that way, and beyond understandable.

But what I do feel like I see, and think you do too, is holding on pretty tightly to this person's view of you. My suggestion is to think about his credibility. In other words, when we put a lot of value in how someone has viewed or treated us, one assumes that's because we feel that person is admirable or otherwise of high value. With people we don't feel that way about, we will tend to not give their opinions much weight because...well, they don't deserve much, if you catch my drift.

So, it might be worth thinking about why you're still giving this person so much power over you in this way, which is obviously the last thing you want. That might also be a different way to look at letting some of this go: as not just about letting go of your hurt and anger, but perhaps first, or even more, as setting yourself free of this person's influence over you, giving them the control they clearly wanted.

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Redskies
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Thanks for bearing with me.

The woman he's with, he described her to me as "she lets people walk all over her", and she was clearly saying all the adoring worship-y things that I never did. He married her. Hence my assumptions that he has what he wants. I'd be concerned about her, except that's not my job.

I don't think that his opinions have any value whatsoever, which is partly why I'm annoyed that all this still bothers me. I don't want my reactions and feelings to be in any way shaped by him. I don't care what he thinks, I'm just angry that he treated me with such uncare, disrespect and not-knowing-me when I was right there. If someone doesn't want to be bothered being decent to me, I'd rather they went far away and didn't bother at all.

And I'm perfectly happy that I'm not him. I'm just angry that he treated me badly when I Really didn't need that.

About the professional field stuff, I suppose it's very difficult to change and un-learn thoughts and opinions about yourself that you had for years and didn't even realise how bad you felt and how they were being created, and maybe that's why I can't shake those feelings as fast as I'd like.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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No, it's totally not your job to take care of any of his partners. But it sounds pretty clearly like a healthy, happy relationship is the last thing he got. Sounds more like he figured out how to target someone better and remain as dysfunctional as before.

I'd just also add a reminder to be patient with yourself. But something else that might help is this: how about you make a list of the ways you feel unconfident or crummy about yourself and your abilities, then put a check mark by any you feel came from him. Even just having that around might be a good way to remind yourself of the difference between things that are true, and things that came from that person's dysfunction, and aren't likely about you in the slightest.

I think that's the other thing that can be hard to remember: unhealthy, dysfunctional people don't really tend to "see" other people separately or distinctly. They tend to see through their own lens much more mypoically than healthy people. So, things that he made about you? They were probably not about you at all, but about the way he put himself ON you, or saw you as a means to his own ends.

(Read that Lundy Bancroft! [Smile] )

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Redskies
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I think you're very right with all of that. And I'll get hold of that book.

I think a running reminder like that might really help. I've stubbornly been holding on to my own belief in my ability for the last 3 years. I really try to hold onto that very hard, but sometimes I still feel really grim. I guess I was so conditioned to think poorly of myself that it's hard to completely break free of that. I really believed it unquestioningly at the time. I suppose I managed to get quite far from that, really!

Thanks.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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Maybe another list for you is of all the progress you've made?

It can be easy to forget if and when you're in a space where you're feeling some of the hard stuff again, and you deserve self-recognition for your progress! [Smile]

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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I read the Bancroft and I think it's very good, and really helpful generally. At the same time, although I see similar things, I don't really recognise my own experiences in there.

I don't really recognise the "angry and controlling" in my own experience. The people/men the book describes seem to be wired to an almost conscious entitlement - that's why they do what they do, and why they don't act that way to most people. The guy I was describing, it was like the whole world really did revolve around him, and that was his reality. I'm not recognising manipulation, exactly, in how he was; he wasn't acting in those ways to ensure that the world Did revolve around him, he was acting in those ways because the world revolving around him was the only thing he could conceive of. He didn't do things to keep me in my place, he simply acted according to his reality of him really being the centre of the world.

Clearly, I'm figuring out my own take on what his deal was. I think with this, it's more that I'm familiar with people, once they finally discover what was going on and find out they're not the only one, getting really happy to find out that there are others who describe things that they really relate to and sound just like what they experienced. I suppose I'm missing that - that kind of exact solidarity and support. Sorry if that seems silly. And it's certainly not ungrateful - I've read a lot on this site where I really relate to the general picture, and learned a lot. It's just I've not seen anything anywhere where I think, "yeh, that's kinda like it was for me", and although I try not to and am pretty sure of myself, on some level I still question myself about the whole thing and if I'm a bit crazy. (Can I say that? No intention of stigmatising/appropriating/diminishing, have mental health issues myself where, coupled with unliveable situations, I thought I actually was "crazy". Can't think of another way of getting over what I mean. I suppose the stigmatised bit is part of my meaning.)

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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I'm about to head out for the day, Redskies, so will grab this more and your other post when I can tomorrow.

But is one of the things you're saying here that you feel like you could really use to talk with someone who has had a similar kind of experience as you, with a similar personality? If so, I think I can think of a couple users who have had similar situations whose posts I could link you to.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Redskies
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I'm certainly up for that.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Redskies
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May I ask about this again? I'm really sorry if that's pestering. It's just, a lot of my brain keeps going, well that was all very unpleasant, yes, but there's nothing there that was Really Bad, is there... But yet I certainly experienced it as very bad. I'm a bit confused by my own thoughts about it.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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With these things, we really need to lead with our own experiences. You know it was really bad for you. I don't know what a more universal "Really Bad" is for you, but for the most part, we all have experiential bell curves with these things. Know what I mean?

That said, we know that manipulative relationship with sexual coercion are very unhealthy for people and tend to have deep, harmful impacts.

Have you read any of jazzberry's posts? If not, I feel like you two might have some areas of connectivity: http://www.scarleteen.com/cgi-bin/forum/ultimatebb.cgi?/ubb/get_topic/f/37/t/000523.html

I'm a bit confused by what you mean about the men in the Bancroft book and this other person. I don't think it's at all unusual for manipulative, controlling people to...well, be good at it and wind up doing so well enough that they get the outcome they want, where the world really does wind up revolving around them to some degree.

As well, it's very typical for narcissistic people to be the way you're describing, to act the way they do because their perception of reality is that they are the center of the universe. I think you and I both know that that was not his reality: in reality, no one person is the center of all things for everyone. Do you think it's possible, though, that YOUR perception of that being the case for him had something to do with you believing his perception a lot, with this person being a first love (and so, likely for a while there, the center of YOUR universe?), and also you obviously only -- even now -- seeing s sliver of this person's whole life and how they present it to you, rather than seeing the bigger, broader, picture?

In all honestly, I think I'm feeling like some of this might be you still just being in the process of dislodging yourself from the effect he had on you, from self-blame and from absolving him of responsibility in some of the ways you have during our talks on this. That would certainly be understandable, after all, it's not like that much time has passed since this happened to you.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Redskies
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The centre-of-the-world thing, that comes from me now, thinking that any time he liked someone, was happy about someone/something, did something for someone, there was something in it for him and it fit the way he pictured himself, and otherwise, he was very unhappy and very unaccepting, and very hurt that someone could be not considering His feelings or not liking something He was doing.

I was seeing a difference in, the men described in the book behave in ways that's clearly controlling and manipulative. That's not quite my experience - I don't think he cared one jot whether he controlled me or not, only that anything that related to himself was the way he believed it to be. I don't think he deliberately made me feel bad, I think he couldn't see or care beyond his own nose.

I Know that it's always about how the person affected experienced it... but I was doing that classic thing of "but what I'm describing isn't So bad, it isn't X,Y and Z, so do I really have much of a right to complain..." and trying to shake myself out of it.

I've read a bit, but I'll check out that thread.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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People who really don't care about controlling and manipulating people don't try so hard to control and manipulate people.

If he didn't care about that, why not just leave you early on and date someone who would easily do everything he wanted right off the bat? Why not just go after some lower-hanging fruit, as it were?

What would the appeal have been in endlessly struggling with you, in engaging in things with you you didn't want, in investing so much energy in wearing you down?

People who don't want to control people don't seek out partners later, like he did, who they brag about being a doormat. Healthy people don't see people like that as awesome opportunities for themselves, but as people in need of care and some help.

Again, sometimes people's motives aren't all that clear to them, especially if they are not healthy people. Like you read in the Bancroft, plenty of abusive people conceptualize abuse as love. But that doesn't mean they're loving, not abusing: they are still abusing.

Just some food for thought.

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Redskies
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Duh.

I'm sorry you keep needing to spell all this out to me, but I seem to need someone to really spell it out.

I also thought it was because he'd liked me for a while, he'd got it so fixed that he wanted me, and he couldn't possibly accept that he was wrong. But trying to force reality to be the way you imagine it is kind of a way of controlling, too. Trying to make my space be "perfect girlfriend picture" and not simply "Redskies" is a way of controlling, too. I've heartily disliked the word "girlfriend" ever since that relationship. I always knew it was because I felt more "trophy and girlfriend-image" than really valued for myself (in hindsight), but the "controlling" bit falls more into place now.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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Don't worry about that, seriously. I'm glad to be of help.

But your last paragraph in that post? Sounds like you're putting some pieces together in a really insightful way, to me. Really, bingo.

Sometimes it can help to change up words a little, especially if they're loaded. So, "controlling" can certainly be switched for something like "dictating," "over-directing," or "conducting the whole freaking orchestra when you're supposed to be second-chairing with the person next to you who is also second-chair."

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Thanks so much. I tend to Almost get something, and yet, without Completely getting it, I don't get it at all. A lot of people seem to find that frustrating or seem to think that I should be ok with "almost", the way they would be. I'd be like that if I could, it would make life so much easier, but I'm just not. So thanks for sticking with it and keeping trying things to find the things that will make it fall into place in my head.

And yes. Hell yes. I totally, totally feel like that about it, and it sums up what was wrong with the whole damn thing, that guy, and how I felt. It's kind of the perfect picture.

Thanks for talking with me. It's so good to feel that someone kind of gets what was going on and that it's totally unsurprising that I feel the way I feel. I've got the "over-reacting" message from plenty of people, if not the word itself.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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You know, my experience with people who think the way you're describing is just that they're complex thinkers. That's hardly a bad thing.

You're so welcome. [Smile] Again, I don't think you're overreacting. I find it can help to remember that we live in a world with a LOT of unhealthy dynamics, which also tends to do a darn good job of obscuring them so an awful lot of people don't recognize them. It's cold comfort sometimes, for sure, but it -- for me, anyway -- at least helps me extend my patience with that kind of messaging, remember that I'm often talking to people who react that way because they themselves have been part of unhealthy things, and keep in mind that even when people really should make things about you when you're voicing your pain, when they react dismissively like that, it usually has little to nothing to do with you at all.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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