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Where have my feelings gone? Emotional numbing after abuse.

(18 Posts)
aLeafFa11s Fri 29-Jan-16 22:26:22

Very brief background. I've been separated from my very abusive STBXH for around a year. He was abusive in every way possible for our 20 year marriage. He stays in contact, wanting us to be "amicable". This is because he is emotionally very dependent on me. He has asked and asked to come back - he left - but I've always said no.

My life is very peaceful now, but I have some concerns. I'll likely keep my home, I have work I like and materially I'll be ok.

But where have my emotions gone? It's not that I don't feel anything, but everything's muted. I meditate and when I attempt to look at how I feel, there's nothing there. I can't tell what I'm feeling.

The ending of my marriage was very painful, oddly, with infidelity on his part and he strung out the leaving, so I didn't know what would happen for nearly two years. He'd persuaded me I'd not be able to manage without him ( I do fine) and I was full of fear and hurt for years. Majority of the marriage. There were always threats of leaving and I'd "end up with nothing.".

Will my emotions come back? All I really want to do is work, come home and potter. The only time I feel "alive" is when I'm walking in remote countryside, experiencing the elements. Alone.

I have children and little grandchildren and I think I'm missing out on them and them me. We have a good relationship but I don't feel I'm really "present".

I'm sure this is some kind of self protective thing my brain is doing, but is it forever? Anyone else gone through this? I feel like I've been bullied out of my life and me. I've gone into hiding to protect myself and don't know how to come back to life.

sh77 Fri 29-Jan-16 22:30:29

Wish I could give you advice. I have been very emotionally numb since dd died in 2009. Even though I'm not in the depths of grief any longer, I never regained the ability to feel or react to things that I should. I don't know what the answer is but I know what you mean.

aLeafFa11s Fri 29-Jan-16 22:39:58

thanks sh77. Maybe part of us just doesn't want to feel anymore?

whitehandledkitchenknife Fri 29-Jan-16 22:41:36

They will come back Leaf. At the moment your mind is processing and filtering and recalibrating. The levels of stress you have experienced over such a long time will have taken their toll and you are still adjusting to the new stress free you. It's good to hear that walking alone amongst the elements is hitting the spot. Look at how far you've come in a year and what you have achieved. I know that sense of not being fully 'present' following years of unmitigated life crap. I know the numbness. And the first sign that I was beginning to thaw was experiencing a sense of wonder at a sunrise one morning about 6 months ago.
You'll get there. Slowly and gently and peacefully.

aLeafFa11s Fri 29-Jan-16 22:46:01

Thank you whitehandled, that's a very hopeful post. I'm going to copy and paste it to my online journal.

HandyWoman Fri 29-Jan-16 22:47:34

I wonder whether the continued emotional numbness is something to do with trauma? Or that you are still very guarded because there's still practicalities to sort? I'm certainly no expert. I found psychotherapy to be the best thing. If you possibly can, you should have some. Also a year is not very long at all. One year on from my split I thought I was a long way down the road but it's only now that I look back 2.5 years on and seen a massive amount of progress is behind me. When you walk outdoors in nature, it's the best thing. It's its own sort of therapy. The fact that you feel stuff then - is a really good sign that you are starting to feel the benefits of your new peaceful life - just slowly. That ok I reckon.

Well done on not having him back thanks

aLeafFa11s Fri 29-Jan-16 22:52:50

He's astonished at my refusal to have him back HandyWoman. Two decades of getting his own way through bullying, threats, shaming etc he thought I'd always back down.

But by leaving for his "new life" he accidentally gave me the space to stand up to him and say No.

whitehandledkitchenknife Fri 29-Jan-16 23:21:51

I found the book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker to be helpful in coming to terms with a lot of things in my life. I hadn't really considered that they would be deemed traumatic as it sounds such a dramatic,big word. And I agree HandyWoman, Leaf's experiences have caused trauma.

And well done from me too for not having him back.

aLeafFa11s Sat 30-Jan-16 10:28:26

I'll take a look at that book. Recovering from all this is like peeling an onion. I keep uncovering layer after layer. Only no tears, because I can't cry. One of my parents died days after ex left and I couldn't cry then, even though I'd been very close to that parent and had had nightmares about them dying when I was a child.

whitehandledkitchenknife Sat 30-Jan-16 22:52:30

Oh Leaf that is rough. And not being able to cry is rougher still. And you're right, it is just like onion layers. Just when you think you have levelled out a bit, something triggers you and off you go again.
You may find that as you begin to settle even more into your new life, things will begin to rise to the surface. I'm a big believer in crying, followed by a big sleep.
If and when this happens, allow yourself to feel the emotion and be so very gentle and kind to yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat someone who has been badly wounded.
I sought out counselling to see me through a ridiculously painful time a few years back. It was worth every penny. To have someone listen to my story, to validate me and reassure me that I was an ok person, because although I am a strong woman, the life events I was dealing with were just too much to handle alone. It might be worth seeking out someone just for you.

aLeafFa11s Sat 30-Jan-16 23:49:15

I think a good counsellor would be a good idea at the moment. Sometimes I'm doing better than other times. Often after a better time, a new layer of stuff to deal with emerges. My subconscious is probably handling this in instalments.

whitehandledkitchenknife Sun 31-Jan-16 11:08:16

That's a brilliant way of describing it Leaf. Handling it in instalments. That's exactly how it feels.

AnotherEmma Sun 31-Jan-16 11:15:18

Sorry for the loss of your parent flowers That must be hard, especially on top of every else you've been through.

I think seeing a therapist or counsellor would be a very good idea.

And give yourself time - it will take time to process and heal from what's happened.

On a practical note, why don't you block your ex completely, so he can't contact you and interrupt your healing? It sounds like your children are adults and don't live with you, so I can't think of any reason to be in touch with him any more. Block him on your phone, email and any other channel of communication where he could reach you.

whitehandledkitchenknife Sun 31-Jan-16 11:29:00

Good point AnotherEmma. I had to block a sibling when his abusive texting became too much. The phone company changed my number (you may not want to do that Leaf) even as we spoke on the phone. As soon as he heard the words 'abusive texts', he was on to it. Instant result.

whitehandledkitchenknife Sun 31-Jan-16 11:44:25

I've just properly registered the word 'amicable' in your post Leaf. There was nothing amicable in his treatment of you during your relationship, so why would he have changed now? It sounds like another way to control you.
Does he have anything that you need? Does he still make you feel uncomfortable, tense, stomach lurchy?
If there is no essential reason for having him in your life then consider getting rid once and for all. You have no obligation to be amicable.

aLeafFa11s Sun 31-Jan-16 21:30:28

I blocked him this weekend, emma We're still going through the divorce, but I've decided it will all go through solicitors. Expensive, but trying to reduce the abuse.
You're right, whitehandled it has all been about keeping control. It's taken me a while to see that clearly. He's been so bloody manipulative, I'm still only now, beginning to see it. Uncomfortable, tense and stomach lurchy is the least of it. The stress has made me ill but I'm working on that. It's why I've decided to put a Rottweiler solicitor between me and him, the effect on my physical health was getting serious.

whitehandledkitchenknife Sun 31-Jan-16 22:47:24

Good for you Leaf. The money spent on a Rottweiler solicitor will be money well spent. It will release a layer of stress that you can do without. Do what you need to, to keep yourself safe and calm. Buffers (particularly of the Rottweiler kind) are essential.

AnotherEmma Mon 01-Feb-16 08:43:52

Well done for blocking him and doing it all through a solicitor. That will help I'm sure. Onwards and upwards!

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