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Confused about feelings for my abusive ex

(8 Posts)
Yearofme Tue 21-May-13 15:59:59

Does anyone else have these! I am so confused!

Brief background (vague and changed a wee bit so not to out myself!)

I have DD 4yo from a long term relationship, been split for 3 years XP was an arse at first but has pulled his socks up the last year or so with contact and maintence so no drama there. I care about him, but no romantic feelings/love/attraction. Sometimes I'm sad it didn't work out but I learnt alot about myself and moved on. However when we were together, he had a drink problem, used to verbally abuse me and at one point held me up against The wall with a knife to my throat.

But I don't hate him, I don't understand why not? I'm not even scared of him. He's stopped drinking now and we have a nice co parent realitionship. Finally! My parents knew about this but carry on being happy to see/speak to him for DD's sake, which I understand but I think this makes me minimise/rationalise his actions. My mum always tells me I can hold my own in an argument, soooo what's the drama hmm

More recently I got involved with a guy, who let me down very badly when I was very ill in hospital, he was verbally abusive, got a thrill out of hurting me (pinching dead legs etc), very insecure and possessive, also a compulsive liar, I'm 99% he cheated. All very bad. I became pregnant unexpectedly but lost the baby, we were only together 6 months. (He never met dd thank god!)

I am confused as to why I put up with this? And it sends a chill down my spine when I think what would of happened if we had stayed together, I hadnt lost the baby etc (as I've read on here it gets worse during pregnancy/newborn phase)

But I miss him and spend time wonder what I did wrong (he ended it) I don't understand why I feel like this!

Since we've split, my life is better. I don't get it! I've been having some counselling, my next app is tomorrow. I've had normal healthy relationships before that just haven't worked out for different reasons (uni, visa running out, fizzling out so no drama etc)

I've decided to take a whole year being single and doing what I want, as I'm scared I making the same mistake. I think, I don't really like myself, and I'm not sure why, I have DD, good job, friends, my own place, family but I feel like I'm odd and not good enough ad people tolerate me rather than like me.

I just want to know why I put up with the two previous relationships, and why don't I hate them, be angry with them etc

I feel a bit flat at the moment, no depressed, but not happy just a bit emotionless really. sad

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 21-May-13 16:09:08

Hate is a pretty destructive emotion and it would be very wearing to actively hate someone for years on end. So I can understand why you have mellowed to a working relationship with your ex.

What the counselling can help you work out is whether there is any commonality between the two abusive relationships and how to recognise it in future. There must be something that initially attracted you to both men and maybe that's the thing to identify. Some abusive characteristics can start out looking like regular personality traits... for example, 'insecure and possessive' can initially look like someone has really fallen for you. A little jealousy can be flattering in moderation but nasty when taken to excess.

Dahlen Tue 21-May-13 16:16:46

I think you're doing exactly the right thing, so congratulate yourself on that.

Abusive relationships leave scars and many lessons to be learned. It is important to understand your own role in them (which is not the same as fault) in order to avoid making the same mistakes. You've taken the first step towards that. smile Many people don't. sad

It's natural to feel what you do about people who have treated us badly. It's human nature to think "why wasn't I able to stop that", because we all try to kid ourselves that we are in control of a situation and what we do matters. Therefore, when things fail, we naturally tend to blame ourselves for our shortcomings and we end up thinking "if only I'd been prettier/more patient/more fun/a better cook..." etc.

I suspect part of your lack of anger is simply that you hold yourself partly responsible (for putting up with it, if nothing else).

When it comes to abusers you have to realise that even if you'd been 100% the person they wanted you to be, the abuser would still find some way of putting you in the wrong because they need to have a victim. They will find ways to victimise people rather than choose someone who deserves to be a victim because of their flaws. Once you realise this, you realise that the abuse is about them, not you, and that's when you get angry.

You also might find some insight from looking at the social context in which abuse takes place. Even in 2013 we live in a society where male superiority is reinforced and violence (of all types) downplayed. We are told the negative consequences of 'broken homes' and single mothers are still castigated in the press. We are told we have to work at marriage (which usually means women being expected to put up and shut up). It's not a difficult leap to see why so many women still put up with bad behaviour. The lack of respect inherent in hitting your partner is not that far up the spectrum from the lack of respect shown when a man leaves his dirty underpants on the floor expecting his wife to pick them up and wash them for him, but if you said you were divorcing over that far too many people would still look at you like hmm.

Stay single for a while. Read the Lundy Bancroft book. Concentrate on developing your friendships and interests and doing things that make you feel good about yourself. Tell yourself daily that you are a strong, capable person.

Also, take pride in the fact that you are probably one of life's 'movers on'. IMO people who reflect on past mistakes are often the least likely to be pigeonholed by them and the least likely to be bitter about them. Why be angry now? You are out of the situation and adapting already. Indifference or mild dislike is what you should be aiming for, since hatred is allowing these people far too much presence in your life.

Yearofme Tue 21-May-13 16:32:49

I Spose I feel not good enough, because I'm a single mother if that makes sense. I feel like I'm a burden and no man will want me.

With my DDs dad, I was young, and it didnt get bad until I was heavily pregnant, we had split by the time she was one.

With the recent ex, it was as if I liked the challenge of living up to his ridiculous expectations. Like I could prove I was good enough (cooking, doing all the cleaning, changing the way I dressed/make up. Sex 3 times a day if not more even if I didn't feel like it I could go on and on) to make up for my flaws (being a single mother)

I knew he picked up on my insecurities and used them to his advantage, and I'm getting there slowly, but I just can't see a way to love myself/accept myself and be happy with my life. I panic I won't find the one for me and have a real family and marriage. I'm only 27 but I fell like its all over. I love DD more than anything and wouldn't change her for the world, logically I know I'm fine and my life is fine! But I don't believe I deserve nice things/good people in my life.

I also feel embarrassed that I put up with it? And wouldn't want future partners to know about it, but feel like I should tell them?? It's weird!

Yearofme Tue 21-May-13 16:33:17

I Spose I feel not good enough, because I'm a single mother if that makes sense. I feel like I'm a burden and no man will want me.

With my DDs dad, I was young, and it didnt get bad until I was heavily pregnant, we had split by the time she was one.

With the recent ex, it was as if I liked the challenge of living up to his ridiculous expectations. Like I could prove I was good enough (cooking, doing all the cleaning, changing the way I dressed/make up. Sex 3 times a day if not more even if I didn't feel like it I could go on and on) to make up for my flaws (being a single mother)

I knew he picked up on my insecurities and used them to his advantage, and I'm getting there slowly, but I just can't see a way to love myself/accept myself and be happy with my life. I panic I won't find the one for me and have a real family and marriage. I'm only 27 but I fell like its all over. I love DD more than anything and wouldn't change her for the world, logically I know I'm fine and my life is fine! But I don't believe I deserve nice things/good people in my life.

I also feel embarrassed that I put up with it? And wouldn't want future partners to know about it, but feel like I should tell them?? It's weird!

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 21-May-13 16:44:35

"I Spose I feel not good enough, because I'm a single mother if that makes sense."

With respect, no it doesn't. I'm a single mother and I heard something really lovely the other day. Went like this.... when you see a woman on her own with a baby, struggling to do the right thing, trying to do the best she can, failing occasionally and succeeding at other times, never forget that however much she falls down or gets it wrong ... she is the parent that stayed

So stop thinking you're not good enough. You and me.... we're the ones that stayed.

Yearofme Tue 21-May-13 16:58:06

cogito I know your right, it's like I have 90% of my brain being level headed and normal. And 10% is this voice of all the bad things people have said to me/bad things that have happened to me etc. telling me that they are true and I'm unlovable.

How do you boost self esteem? Liking myself seems such an alien concept it makes me laugh and little bit! I can't even imagine it.

On the surface I hold it all together, but underneath I feel so detached from everyone, and tired, soooooooo so so so tired.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 21-May-13 17:26:37

"How do you boost self esteem?"

Start by drowning out that 10% 'voice' with your own. Literally look in the mirror and tell yourself every day that you're a great person with lots of talents and a 'can do' attitude. Find inspirational quotes, read inspirational books, whatever it takes. If you tell yourself often enough and loud enough that you're terrific you'll believe it.

Next.. act like someone with high self-esteem. Sounds a bit 'woo' but people respond to the person you appear to be and, as we all know, that can be quite different to the one you actually are. So, even if you feel detached and tired, act, talk and walk like a confident person and you'll be treated like one. Again, this becomes self-perpetuating. 'Fake it until you make it'

Another one... only hang out with people who think you are great and share your views smile Be with people that make you feel good about yourself. Reject out of hand anyone that doesn't like you or disagrees with you rather than thinking you have to change yourself suit them. Find your Inner Diva, your Lord Sugar...... 'wasting my time? you're fired'

Another one.... set goals and challenges for yourself. Doesn't have to be running a marathon or climbing Everest (unless you want to do that of course), you could learn something new or go somewhere you've always wanted to visit. The important thing is to set the task, work towards it and come away with a sense of achievement. It's that feeling of accomplishment ... 'I did that'... that boosts self esteem

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