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The past won't go away,and I think I need help

(43 Posts)
sadowlbaby Tue 08-Oct-13 15:57:33

I have n/c for this and am putting it in here because it is about an abusive relationship, and a lot of what I have read on MN has helped me see my own situation in a new light. I have written and deleted this a few times now, and I have never managed to finally post it, so we'll see. It's long, but please read: I would really value any advice

From my mid teens onwards, I was in a relationship which I now know to be emotionally abusive at the very least. It lasted 8 years and I had an unplanned pregnancy which resulted in my lovely DS.

My ex was a horrible, manipulative person, some years older than me. He ground me down into nothing. I was only a young girl, and he destroyed me. I look back at my teenage self, and I want to cry. I want to take that girl, give her a hot water bottle and tuck her into bed and keep her safe. I was a bright, loving, naive, trusting, talented kid with a variety of interests and passions. He slowly but surely stripped away everything I loved, until I had nothing.

For instance: I loved a certain sport, and played it all the time. After a while, I gave it up, because he told me that it was a 'game for dykes', that only 'ugly girls with fat legs' wanted to play a game like that. When i was at practice, he would constantly phone me, then when I phoned back, he'd yell and scream at me for not answering. If I went out with friends, he would phone and text constantly,telling me I was a slut, that I shouldn't be going out when I had a boyfriend.

He told me my friends were sluts, that they were bad influences on me (though I later found out he constantly asked them to shag him all throughout our relationship) He told me the music I listened to and the books I read were shit, if I so much as lifted a book he threw a tantrum because I wasn't paying attention to him. His idea of spending time together was for him to play computer games, while I sat on a chair beside him, watching him play, and giving him handjobs when he demanded. This went on for hours, if I was tired and suggested doing something else he would go mad.

I was terrified of him being angry with me. I was a brave, confident girl, but not by the time he was finished.

I find it hard to say this, but I think he raped me. I think it would count as rape, at least. He would use sex as both a punishment and a bribe. He told me that if I wanted to do something, eg, go for a coffee with a friend instead of staying in and watching him play on the PC, I would have to 'earn' it by doing what he wanted sexually. He also forced me into anal sex frequently, on a few occasions in public places- it hurt. He also had sex with me at night- this is why I don't know if it was rape, he would just do it without asking, I would wake up with him on top of me. The sex was often very violent and very humiliating

Once we were at his friend's house for a party- we were the first to arrive and the friend left us to watch TV while he was in the kitchen. My ex made me give him oral sex in the middle of the room, and when the friend came in, he would not let me stop, but made me do it while the friend watched.He came on my face and thought it was hilarious. The friend then informed everybody of what a 'horny slut' I was. I then, of course, got a reputation I didn't deserve, as my ex liked to tell everybody in our small town about all the things I 'let him' do to me- i was the source of much laughter in the local pubs apparently, pubs where elderly members of my family had to sit and listen about how I loved sucking my ex's dick after he did me up the ass. To this day I have only ever slept with two men.

I think he wanted me to get pregnant, about 5 years into our relationship. He refused to wear a condom and he wouldn't let me take the pill incase it made me 'fat'- yet I couldn't get out of having sex with him. I was a stupid, stupid girl, but he had my head twisted- I came from a safe,loving, protective environment-I was no match for his level of abuse and manipulation.

So I got pregnant, and he did things to me which I have never told a soul, and which I don't think I will ever be able to- I can't even write it. I can't even go there.

When my DS was 3, I left. He was getting bored with me I think- he was trying to persuade me to have threesomes and he was less careful about hiding his cheating. I don't know where I found the strength to leave. My close family and what few friends I had left, had been worried sick about me for years- luckily I come from a close knit family, as he had tried to detach me from them, and if he had done that i would probably still be with him today. Anyway, they had always hated my ex. It was like one day, what they were saying sunk in. I grew up a bit, I was a parent myself- all of a sudden I saw that the relationship was not normal.

When I left him, I was strong. I moved away with my son and I went back to finish my education (which of course he had sabotaged). i was proud of myself: i had survived

Here is my problem now

I am now very happily married to a kind,caring and gentle man, who is the opposite of my ex in every way. I love him to death, and we are so happy together. I have friends, a social life, a nice home. My life is pretty much perfect. I am safe, happy, loved, content.

And yet...and yet...this past few months, I feel as though I am breaking down. I don't want to leave the house, i don't want to do anything, I just want to hide and cry and rage at the man who destroyed me.

I am grieving for the woman I could have been, but I am also incredibly bitter at my ex. I found out a while ago that he is married with children- he has not seen my DS for years. They have a villa in Spain, apparently, and are wealthy. It transpires that my ex told everybody I used to know (we lived in a small area) that I was a psycho, that I wouldn't let him see his son, that I am a liar and that I got pregnant deliberately, that i am a shit mother and SS should be involved.

He is still destroying me even now- he is still saying this things, and colouring who I am. The bitterness and anger is overwhelming me. I can't cope with it. I didn't feel this bad even after we broke up. I have fixed my life and I am happy- why is this all coming up now? I want it to go away. i want to forget about him, but it is rotting me from the inside.

I feel as if he destroyed my life. What did i do to deserve his treatment? Why is he not suffering? People still think I am some crazy, slutty bitch.

can't get past this stupid mental block in my head that says I'm not deserving of the help given to 'real' rape victims

You really can stop thinking like this now. What you went through is quite unbelievable and so obviously continual rape.
You need the help and support so take that first step.
Even if your DH (who sounds wonderful by the way) helps you.
Maybe he can look up the number of your local rape crisis centre.
Maybe he can be with you while you call them the first time.
But you need to take the first step to getting yourself out of bed and back to your family.
You know you deserve it after everything you have been through.
Get the help and then start living your dreams! It's all waiting for you.

As your title says - the past WON'T go away until you tackle it head on.
Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Wed 09-Oct-13 11:35:37

Sadowl, you sound amazingly strong - you got out! The fact that it took 8 years is probably only because you were so young and vulnerable. People like him mess with your head and make you feel at fault, when in fact he is an evil, lying bastard.

I would say you definitely need help, and it sounds as though you want it too. You've done the bravest, hardest thing already - leaving - so you now need to gather your strength again, see your GP and ask for help. You sound depressed - understandably so - and I don't think the PTSD diagnosis is wrong either.

I think you sound like an amazing person and I wish you were my RL friend. And your DH sounds wonderful too. Just remember to keep him in the loop. I've experienced some of this from the other side, and there is only so much a person can take on without cracking. So talk to him, tell him how you're feeling, and show him that you want and will get help. That way you can work together and support each other, because you really aren't alone in this.

And look forwards. You feel terrible now, but I get you anything that in 3 months, 6 months, a year, you'll be able to look back and think: "God, that was awful, but I've come on so far".

gypsygirlfromlondon Wed 09-Oct-13 14:26:33

I am very sorry indeed to read what you have gone through and felt I had to reply. I wish I could help you more and can only offer you my opinion and how I have coped over the years as a survivor of an abusive relationship.

I was 16 when I met my ex. I had been very strictly brought up, an only child from a small isolated village and attended a girls' convent school for 10 years.

I went through a few years of abuse and although I have managed, the consequences are still with me. I am now married with 3 children and thank the Lord every day for my long suffering husband who has supported me for many years.

I can only tell you that in my experience there is no easy solution and the pain, anger, sadness and loss will to some extent never leave you because you were young and vulnerable when this happened. I was diagnosed with PTSD at 21 and later Borderline Personality Disorder in at 31 through a referral to my GP for an unrelated health problem. However, I never sought counselling but I should have done. I now feel that although I am not healed, I can 'cope' with what I went through.

Since I had my last child and became a stay home parent, I have spent years reflecting, reading and 'self- talking'. I find having insight has given me strength and understanding that I was NOT to blame even though I may FEEL that way. I blocked a lot of it out for a few years and just couldn't remember things but still had nightmares. So counselling seemed too far away from me if that makes sense.

I now do a little reflection on my past every day, how I feel about it and how I can move forward to become a stronger, happier person and be the best mother I can. I do this so that my issues with what happened to me stay with me as much as possible and do not affect my children.

There are lots of good books out to start getting a perspective. The first one I read was' Men who hate women and Women who love them' before I had children when I was still in my twenties. But no more until I was 35 as I tried to blot it all out and focus on my career. But once I had a family, I had to face my past somehow.

Since then, I have watched lots self help you tube videos on abuse/domestic violence, read articles and developed my faith which has helped me stay strong. I am not self harming at the moment or drink excessively, although I do have lapses.

It sounds as though you have a wonderful, supportive family. I would try talking to them if you can so they understand more of what you suffered. I am still not able to discuss anything of what happened to me except with my husband so therapy is not for me.

But I can recommend' cognitive behaviour therapy' as being very good for survivors. I think it is available on the NHS.

I still feel burdened by my past but too shy to seek therapy. It has taken me years to get to where I am now.

I come from a middle class but dysfuntional, toxic family and I now have no contact with my father and speak to my mother by phone once a month. I have had to dig deep and deal with the painful reality that my parents brought me up in such a way as to leave vulnerable. I jumped from a very dominating, obsessive controlling father and harsh critical mother to a dominating, obsessive controlling man.

My situation was different from yours but I find it very comforting to read that I am not the only woman to have had all her younger adult years destroyed.

I have come to terms with what happened to me but it has left me chronically under confident, a virtual recluse ( I spend all day at home alone and I just can't socialise) because I I still feel 'different' to everyone else. I do lots of acitvities with the children, church, parties etc but I never make friends, I'm just polite. You know, that feeling that no one will like you if they knew who you really are as I went though so many years being told I was a bad person by my parents and my ex. I didn't confide in a soul as I was too frightened and manipulated. No one knew a thing, as I was taught by my family to hide neglect and issues from childhood.

Please talk to your husband about your feelings if you can, he sounds great smile My DH will always listen if I need to talk. If you can seek counselling, do try. Women's aid have some great support services. Facebook also has some support groups ( which won't show up on your profile).

I just do one day at a time. Overall, things have gradually got better, but I have my 'shakey' days as I call them, where I just feel completely crap.

I think it is quite usual for victims and survivors to get older, have children and then start looking back, needing to heal or find resolution. I no longer have PTSD as such because my startle response is less and I'm not 're-living' or trying to reproduce the trauma as I once did. I am out of 'trauma mode' as I call it!

You have been so strong to leave and make a new life for yourself!! But please try not to have ANY interest in his life, its damaging as you are still going back in a way. Detach and keep away from knowing anything of his life if you can. It will just eat at you and keep you psychically 'hooked in' so to speak.

You know, sometimes abusive men do not always repeat patterns. They pick a vulnerable young girl and take out all their anger and rage on them. In later life, they may find a woman who is not 'open' to this type of relationship and so have a seemingly happy existence with that woman, children, a good job etc.

Don't blame yourself that he living a 'normal' life while you are still suffering. Many abusive men can do this - leading 'double lives' or attack one person to be the focus of their anger that they truly connect to, while everyone else thinks they are the best man on the planet who could never hurt a soul. He has taken out his rage on you and with you with will stay. My ex wore the most amazing mask I've ever seen! He was THE most popular person! He had a million friends, a best mate, ex girlfriends and girl mates who truly thought he was an amazing man. [anger] But it was all a lie. His family were alcoholics and abusers. He used to joke to me how much he had fooled everyone while smashing me up against the wall, threatening to kill me or verbally attacking me about my horrible thin body.

My ex 's pet name for me was 'bitch', ( I used to count how many times he said it per day ) used to call me crazy every moment! Invited other people to abuse me, hoodwinked everyone into thinking he was wonderful and normal while abusing me behind closed doors and of course no one knew except me. Look up 'Gaslighting'. It sounds as though this has happened to you a lot! Very typical of abusers.

I mourn my lost years and no, I am not the person I wanted to become. I accept now that I can never have those years back and that he 'won' and I lost. My anger is still unresolved but I try everyday to keep strong. I watch comedy, enjoy my Costa coffee, cook with my kids and spend time with my husband as much as possible and go my French class.

Good luck, I hope that you can come to terms with it one day. It's a long journey, but be brave!! Face it head on and do what makes YOU feel better in order to heal. Just one day,one feeling at a time. Take it slow. I can't guarantee that the past will go away completely, you were so young, it gets embedded into you and become part of who you are. But I can say, you will be stronger and wiser and more at peace.

Good luck my dear and get that counselling ! Sending you hugs,cake and wine cake winexx

Sorry this post has been soooo long!!

sadowlbaby Thu 10-Oct-13 10:43:06

Sorry I haven't been on- MN was running very slow for me yesterday and not loading up.

Thank you all so very much for the help and advice, and more than that, the validation of my feelings really. I knew when I posted that whatever advice I got from MN would be spot on, and it is.

I have a lot to think about, and I know I need counselling. I have discussed it with my DH and he agrees and is, of course, behind me in whatever I choose to do.

Getting the counselling will be difficult- I have terrible anxiety and it takes me days to work up the courage to phone the bank, never mind organising counselling. However, I know that I will do it- it may not be today, tomorrow, next week, or even next month, but I will work my way towards it. I have googled Rape Crisis/counselling in my local area, and I have some phone numbers- that is as far as I have got, but for me, it was a massive step just typing the words into Google- I got anxious and panicky just doing it.

I know this is anonymous, I don't know any of you, and you don't know me, but honestly, you'll never know how much it has meant to me, having people give their unbiased opinion and telling me it's OK to feel this way, as pathetic as that sounds.

gypsygirl- I am so sorry that happened to you-your post is how I would like to be eventually- I also do not think this will ever leave me, and it will colour my life and my interactions with people forever. I am too damaged, deep down. your post gives me inspiration and hope, that eventually I can reach a place of peace and acceptance.

I am trying to be as mature, and sensible, and methodical about this as possible. I am a perfectionist and I push myself too hard at times and expect a lot of myself- I don't want to be defined by my past victimhood. However I think I need to take this very slowly, do it properly. It is going to be a long, painful process- as I said, even arranging counselling is the equivalent of climbing Everest for me- but I feel that i am taking the first tiny, baby steps.

It's good to get your update.
And this site was a nightmare for me yesterday as well.

You have now taken 2 massive steps.
You posted here and you have taken the step of getting phone numbers.
Only you know how YOU really feel and you can take as much time as you want and do it all at your own pace.
As you've said - you WILL get there and I am so pleased to hear you say that.
It will really help with every aspect of your life and you so deserve to be fully happy.
Take it one step at a time and I wish you all the happiness in the world.
Well done! Keep going.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Oct-13 11:22:39

I agree with the PP. Sometimes all you need is the validation of others. Sometimes you need more. Even the luxury of going at your own speed and feeling in control is helpful in and of itself. Your DH sounds terrific and so do you. Good luck whatever you decide.

Damnautocorrect Thu 10-Oct-13 11:36:11

I'm another reading your story shocked at the similarities with my own life.
I put mine in a box, every so often it worms its way out and I have to fight to get it back in.
Get the help out there, this bastard stole your early adulthood (I won't call them your best years as they are still to come) don't let him steal anymore. He doesn't deserve them, you and your wonderful family do.
It's like a cancer devouring you and your life, you have to get help to fight it.
Good luck on your journey xx

sadowlbaby Thu 10-Oct-13 12:38:16

Thank you all smile It's shocking to see how common this seems to be- I wonder if that's what kept me thinking that it was 'normal' for so long? When I look back, in hindsight, there were a few girls I knew, who I now think were probably in similar relationships. Teenagers are so very vulnerable, though I suppose it is easy to forget, when they act like they know it all smile

It is like a cancer- I still find it strange that I can't control it.

It's strange. At times I feel that I am two separate, very different people. Sometimes I can be calm, laid back, organised, confident, the sort of person who takes the lead. I usually get like this when other people need me- for instance, my cousin went through a terrible time last year, she had nobody else to turn to but me, and I didn't think twice about phoning the organisations she needed,printing out forms for her, babysitting her children, bringing her round for a nice lunch when she needed to chat. It didn't scare me one bit.

Yet when it is something I need to do, I'm a useless, anxiety ridden wreck. Over the past few years, it has came and went- I'll be managing OK, getting by, then something will trigger, I will shut down for a while, but I end up getting out of it

This past while, though, the flare ups have been getting more frequent and longer, and I find it hard to keep being 'normal' in between- and then, of course, this last spell has been the absolute worst, and it wasn't until I posted this that I felt in any way in control- I felt like I was just going to shut down and stop one day, because the rage and pain and despair was so great that I couldn't function.

I want to be who I am- the laid back, reasonably capable, normal woman. I used to be so ambitious as a girl, but I need to accept that I will probably never function beyond a certain level- I will be happy if, in a few years' time, I can deal with ordinary day to day stuff, without throwing up, panicking, and hiding under the duvet for a week.

Vivacia Thu 10-Oct-13 12:44:27

I really think that good therapy will help you with that need to hide under the duvet for a week. You have those desires, I believe, because it's what you need to survive. Therapy will help you come up with strategies for the next stage in your life, less about surviving and more about thriving. I don't think that there's any reason you can't become absolutely the woman you want to be.

DaisyBD Thu 10-Oct-13 12:57:05

Sadowlbaby - I agree with PPs that therapy, probably long-term, will help you enormously. I experienced some similar things to you when I was young, it started when I was 12 and stopped when I was 20 when my abuser got married to someone else. I am now in my 40s and have been having therapy for the last seven years. This sounds like a lot, and you may not want or need to have so much, but I can tell you without any word of a lie, it has saved my life.

One thing that my therapist said to me early on, which I didn't really understand, was that you have to be strong to be weak, and you have to be weak to be strong. I interpret this to mean that you have to reach a stage in your life when you are strong enough to be able to deal with this stuff, which strips back layers of abuse and mess and chaos and get right back to the real you - the one that you were always mean to be - and help her heal and grow. It did make me feel horribly vulnerable and exposed, and I won't lie, some days I could do nothing but cry and barely manage to get my kids' dinner. But I was strong enough to be weak like that, and letting myself to be weak, and allowing someone to help me, has allowed me to grow strong. Does that make any sense to you?

One thing that makes me really sad is that there are loads and loads of women like you and me, normal average bright sensible women, who have been hurt and abused, and we hardly ever talk about it. My DH knows what happened to me, and some of my close friends and my sisters, but my parents don't and my colleagues don't. It's just not something we talk about, and it means we feel like no-one else experiences this stuff, it's just us, and we're weird or we did something to encourage it or we knew it was wrong and we didn't stop it, so we kind of deserved it, right?

Let me tell you: you will heal, and you will be better. I know it. Therapy can help, even when it feels like there's no point and the damage is done. I felt broken. Like there was no point. And now I don't, and it's amazing and miraculous and I am ok. Some days I feel like shit, and some days I feel brilliant, and most of the time I feel ok, and that makes me very very happy.

I went through BACP and found a counsellor through that, and it did cost an arm and a leg - I've probably spent about £15,000 on therapy. But I cannot think of a single thing that would have been better to spend it on, not holidays or cars or houses or even my kids. Nothing. And I'm not rich by any means, but I prioritise it, even when it means I can't have a holiday or new clothes, because it's meant that I can process this stuff and be ok with it.

It's like you have a horrible wound, and you've tried to patch it up yourself, and it's sort of ok but not really, there's a nasty deep infection there but you can manage the pain day to day. And then therapy comes along and lances the wound, and cleans it all out, gently and carefully, but it hurts like fuck and you think why am I doing this, everything is worse. But then it starts to heal over, and it heals in a healthy way, and you're left with a scar that will never disappear, it's part of you. But it doesn't hurt any more.

noNicknameAnymore Thu 10-Oct-13 19:12:47

I just want to ask you
Please think of reporting your abuser to police
This what happened to you is wrong
I can imagine is not easy to do it but think about it
Do not let him to destroy you all over again because of trauma of what has happened to you in past

Vivacia Thu 10-Oct-13 19:22:06

Please think of reporting your abuser to police

Why noNicknameAnymore?

mcmooncup Thu 10-Oct-13 20:22:09

OP, you sound amazing and brave. I am so sorry for your experiences.

One of the reasons I say brave is that you are embracing and facing up to some of the emotions as to what you actually feel about what happened. This is so much more healthy than hiding them away. Of course you will feel sad, hurt, disgusted (insert emotion)...you have been betrayed by someone who claimed to love you.

Facing up to these emotions is one of the hardest things we can ever do. Bravest thing too. But you MUST do that knowing it was NOTHING ABOUT YOU as to why he did this. He just is like that.

Which brings me onto the other point. You may hear he is doing fine, married, rich...bla bla bla.
I put my life on the fact he will be STILL doing this, still being abusive, and therefore still VERY UNHAPPY. Despite public personas. No one can ever treat anyone like that without some form of self disgust.

His new wife is probably going through the same hell. I don't say pity her, you don't know her, but be thankful he is not your problem any more.

noNicknameAnymore Thu 10-Oct-13 23:09:39

Why what Vivacia ?
Victim of rape forced sex etc
Is that not enough

Vivacia Fri 11-Oct-13 01:15:17

I meant why do you think now is a good time for the OP to report this? Why is it good advice for her?

sadowlbaby Fri 11-Oct-13 12:35:13

I don't think I could go to the police about it- it would be my word against his, it would be messy, and as far as I can see he has forgotten his son exists, which suits me down tot he ground- I don't want him having any contact with either of us. He would be the sort of man who would pursue contact out of sheer spite, not because he wants a relationship with his son.

MatildaWhispers Fri 11-Oct-13 13:45:48

I wouldn't even try to think about reporting it, you sound like you need to focus on small steps at a time and just managing to enquire about the counselling would be a really brave thing to do. Good luck.

Lovely post Daisy
That brought a tear to my eye!
Great advice there OP.
Re-read that post over and over.
Hope your day is going well and your head is out from under the duvet, even if not your whole body yet.

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