Thursday, August 30, 2012

A response to Anonymous

I get a number of emails and comments from readers that stop me in my tracks. When you write about things like abuse and sexual violence, readers are going to tell you their stories. Disclosure begets disclosure.

I'm always honored that someone trusts me enough to share their story. 

Some of the stories are horrendous. Some are merely sad. Some fill me with hope.

I had a comment yesterday on one of my posts and I can't get it out of my head. I responded and went about my day, but it keeps tapping me on the shoulder.

Her story is not tragic. It's not scary or violent. But I can't let it go. It haunts me.

Here is her comment (she posted anonymously). It was left on my post If you read nothing else I ever post, read this:

I almost wish I hadn't read this :(. But thank you for putting the thought in my head.

Everyone thinks he's a great guy, and he is. I just don't like him as much as I should. He's very controlling, but then not really, he lets me do what I want to really. Just doesn't want my son to see his biological family or me to have contact with them. I'm afraid to talk about his Dad to my son. 

R wants to get married. I'm engaged, but told him I'm not ready to get married yet. He's been good about it, but is pushing for soon. So is his family, so is my family. I just don't know. I have the feeling that the list of things he gets angry about me doing (buying toys, giving presents to my friends, talking to strangers and neighbours) might get longer once we're formally and officially together forever.

And his ex accused him of rape, it went to court. It just doesn't seem in his nature, and he said it was all lies and everyone's on his side to prove it. But still, why is it there at all? Should I be paying more attention to his past?

:( I don't know what to do now. I can't get by financially on my own, not without a struggle at least. And my son should have a father figure in his life. I just don't know.”


Okay. This hit me viscerally.

Because ten years ago, this was me.

So Anon, if you're reading this, I want you to pretend for a moment that no one else is here, that you and I are sitting in a coffee shop, having a chat.

Firstly, I'm not going to tell you what to do. I remember when I got married the first time (yes, I've been married twice, the first was a short-lived disaster) a few of my friends had reservations. They tried to talk me out of it. I didn't listen to them. In fact, I was angry with them.

I think I was angry because deep down, I had my own reservations. But I was also scared. I was scared I would never get married and have children. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to find the kind of man I really wanted, and if I did that he wouldn't want me back. I was worried about money. So I pushed those doubts deep down, closed my eyes and took the plunge.

Four months after I got married, I left him. I left him because he grabbed me and threatened to hurt me.

Three years later, I got married again. This time, I also had reservations. I was alarmed by his deep insecurities, his black moods and the gulf between his values and my values. But I was pregnant and I so wanted a baby. I didn't know how I could make it on my own financially, just me and a baby. I didn't see an exit, so I closed my eyes and took the plunge.

I was married for ten years. I thought if I tried hard enough, I could make it work. During all those years, however, those reservations never left. They only grew larger. I didn't want them to be there, so I learned how to make myself go numb.

Anon, when I read your comment, alarm bells went off it my head. Big ones. And as I said earlier, they didn't stop going off. They followed me around all day.

I know you may not want to hear what I think. Then again, you could have just read the post, felt unsettled by it and clicked away. But you didn't. You took the time to leave a comment. I thought maybe you were casting about for a lifeline.

Here is a lifeline.

Listen to your gut.

Turn off the noise coming from your fiance and your family and his family, and listen to your gut.

What is it telling you?

You know what you should do. We always know what we should do. Sometimes we just lack the courage to follow through on it. In the past, I lacked that courage and I deeply regret it.

I wish you the strength to follow your instincts.

x




50 comments:

  1. Anonymous needs to leave that man now. Red flags wove madly around while reading that and I could kind of see why that comment haunted you. I hope she has the strength to listen to her gut and get the hell out.

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  2. I don't think I've ever gotten the shivers from a post quite like this. I hope anon is reading and listens to her gut.

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  3. Dear Anon.
    Please listen to her. I nearly married out of some stupid obligation. You deserve a life of happiness and owe that to your son.
    Best of luck.

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  4. Goosebumps.
    THIS
    "You know what you should do. We always know what we should do. Sometimes we just lack the courage to follow through on it. In the past, I lacked that courage and I deeply regret it."
    I must remember and try to be courageous everyday in all that I do.
    Thank you Kristin xx

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  5. This breaks my heart. I too believe you should go with your gut. I am so glad she commented so that someone was able to validate her concerns.
    I believe that if you 'turn off the noise' of him and his families, you will find strength and confidence within yourself. I grew up in severe DV. I don't want to sound awful, because I like to believe the best in people, however DV never starts out as anything obvious. Often family and friends think the world your other half. I am watching something similar happening to a cousin and her husband, no one else seems to notice.
    I want you to know that if you do decide to leave, your family will respect your decision, any doubt you have affects not only you, but your child as well. That should be good enough for anyone.
    I want her to know that this is common. She is not alone. I also want her to know that as a child of an unhealthy marriage, I would have liked to have seen my parents live separately rather than witness what we saw.
    I don't know what else to say. I can't put my support for this woman into words. The words just aren't there. I would like her to know I am sending so much love and strength to her. Xx

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    1. Thanks Elyse, that is beautiful. And you're right, it never starts out violent. It starts out with small things, but there is always an element of control and guilt. But if those things are there in the beginning, they are red flags IMO. x

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  6. This made me tear up. Anonymous, you are in my thoughts, and if the imaginary strength sent by an imaginary person over the internet is of any help, I am sending you LOADS. You are worth it. Seriously.

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  7. There are a number of comments that are not showing up. I'm not sure why. They came through to my email account, but are not showing up in blogger. I'll give it a little bit of time and see if they show up. Thanks everyone for your supportive comments.

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    1. I have been getting slow Java Script messages a lot on your blog the last couple of days, not sure if it is my computer or your site. It has never happened before. xxx

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    2. Hi Kakka, I'm wondering if that has to do with the floating share bar I installed a couple of weeks back. I may take it off, it's annoying me a bit.

      I found the stray comments in my spam folder!

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  8. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes reading this post. I found a mantra which I would like to share and hopefulloy anonymous will read it because it is something that is really helping me "Feel the fear and do it anyway".
    Sending lots of love, hugs and positive energy.
    Me

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  9. *tears* And applause. I'm not about to tell anyone adamantly what to do about anything as life altering as this. But I'd go so far as say I agree with your post. No wonder you felt compelled and good on you for making the reply public (you of all people would be aware of the number of people who read the things that they need to, and we are none the wiser as blog owners)

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    1. Being Me - I didn't have an email to respond to, or else I would have done it that way. But I agree that there are probably many women out there who are trying to quiet their doubts. x

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  10. I should have listened to my gut with both my exes -- #1, who was a short-lived disaster like yours, and #2, by whom I was pregnant (uncanny parallels). Both times I reasoned it out. Both times I lived to regret it.

    I'm remarried (yes, to #3) and things are good now. But it's been a long, devastating road. If anyone can avoid marrying a man who will make her shudder when she remembers she was actually married to him... then she should.

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    1. Wow Amanda, that is uncanny. Does this mean my next marriage will be a winner? :)

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. I could not have said it better that Kristin. I was in the same situation. I kept hoping things would get better, that I would get better. Then the truth came out. Some awful truths. And when I looked back I knew that it was there all along. I fell I lost 18 years of my life to that man. 18 years I will never get back.

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  13. Anon, these two sentences scare me more than anything,

    "Just doesn't want my son to see his biological family or me to have contact with them. I'm afraid to talk about his Dad to my son".
    and
    "and my son should have a father figure in his life."

    Do you honestly think that this man is the person you want your son to look up to?
    Do you want your son to grow up to be just like this man?
    If you can’t get out for yourself, you must do it for your son.
    Your son deserves to see a man who models behaviour that you would be proud to see your son follow.
    Do you want your son to grow up and treat women like this?
    If you had a daughter in this situation, what would you tell her?
    I know it looks scary from the inside, but the first step is the hardest.
    The worst of your days on your own is still better than the best day of being with him in that environment.
    Do it for yourself but do it for the man you want your son to be as well.
    I wish you the best.

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  14. Dear Anon...
    Run. Run fast. Run far.
    Early Monday morning my husband of almost two years, the man I thought was "the one" despite what family and friends thought, despite what my gut thought two years ago, tried to choke and kill me.
    I could have written your comment three months ago... if I'd had courage. But I didn't, and I nearly wound up in the hospital or dead this week. His comment to me while he was choking me was "If I'm going to go to jail, I might as well make it worthwhile."
    What your son needs is a mom who will model for him what is acceptable behavior in a relationship... and someone who wants to control and manipulate you is not the kind of role model he needs to see.
    You are worthy of someone who will treat you as an equal, not some subservient being.

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  15. I can still remember reading that post you linked above, it was one of the first few posts of yours that I have read and I can remember thinking how much courage it took you to write that post. And this post here, like that one, is going to be a life-changer for many women out there.

    I hope, Anonymous, that you will find the strength to listen to your own inner voice and heed its warning. You do not need to go into a relationship that you aren't 100% sure will be good for you. I mean, no relationship on earth is perfect, but you have to believe that there is one out there that will bring you happiness and erase any lingering doubt in your mind about its authenticity. I agree with the commenter above - you are worth it.

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  16. It's easy to say "leave" when you're not the person facing the fears. Financial insecurity, the lack of a dad for your kids, the fear of being alone -- those are powerful excuses to stay where we are.
    THEY ARE NOT ENOUGH to keep you there. Please, please, listen to your inner self. YOU are trying to warn you that this is a bad idea.
    Much love and hope to you. XX

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    1. I agree with you 100% Toni. Thank you.

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  17. Anon, I was you a few years ago.

    I had a small baby and his father, whilst very doting on him, wasn't ready to commit to a relationship to me, we were very young. I however, craved marriage and security so I sought it out.

    I fell hard for the man I met. He showered me in gifts and said all the right things, he adored my son and promised us the world. He came from a domestic violence background, and swore he would never be his father. And wasn't. He never hit me.

    But he controlled me in every other way possible. What to wear - he would buy my clothes as a gift because they were what he liked - I thought this was sweet but it soon became suffocating. Emotionally manipulating - everything from going back to work to how many guests I could have at our wedding, constantly putting down my friends and my son's father and his family. All my money went on to our mortgages so I had none of my own. He wanted sex and I didn't? It happened anyway while I laid there and cried - he didn't notice or didn't care. The list is endless. I tried to commit suicide and then stood up for myself by taking a cash job. Things quickly unravelled and when he realised he had no control left, he left.

    I barely had anything, he took all the property and left me a car and a bit of cash. We had hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets. All gone. He even took our bed whilst I wasn't home one day and pulled all of my belongings out of the cupboards and left them in a big pile on the floor.

    But I survived and you can too. Having nothing is better than a life like that, trust me. My son's father and I reconciled not long after and are now engaged with a beautiful home and another child. We are incredibly happy and whilst I wish none of what happened happened, I know it made me that much stronger.

    Your son does deserve a father figure, his real father. Give them the chance to know each other because R is not the kind of role model you want for your son. He deserves much better than that, and so do you.

    You are enough on your own, you do not need a man to be enough. You don't need material possessions (other than the basics obviously) to be happy. Please don't waste anymore of your life with this man!

    Abuse comes in many forms, and what he is doing is abuse. You and your son deserve better.

    You have a hard road ahead of you and tough decisions to make, but I think in your heart, you already know what to do. I wish you all the strength, courage and love in the world xo

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    1. Wow, goosebumps. Thank you for sharing your story and for your beautiful encouragement.

      You know, my ex came from an abusive background too. Abuse, neglect, addiction. I wondered aloud how he could have gone through that and came out so pulled-together (and all without therapy!). The short answer is he didn't.

      People who are abusive are very manipulative and dishonest. They can present to you the face you want to see. They are very skilled at it -- they've been doing it all their lives. Those of us who live honestly can't fathom that another person would be so manipulative (especially someone who loves us), so we trust the image they are presenting. But there are always cracks in the facade. Always. And it's those cracks that give rise to the niggling doubts we carry about the relationship. But then we look again at the facade and tell ourselves that we are being judgmental. We are not. We are being our own guardians.

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  18. Oh Anonymous. Dear Anonymous. Get out of that relationship and DO IT NOW.
    Right now! There are better people out there for you. Your son will have plenty of good male role models in his life without you even marrying at all. Your own family, school teachers, there's the "big brother" program as well, church and youth groups. There is no need to go through with something that your gut tells you is WRONG!! Not only are you putting yourself in danger, you are putting your son in danger. And your son SHOULD be allowed to see his biological father, your current partner has NO say in that decision. I'm assuming the biological father is a good man, wants to see his son and lives close enough that this is possible. Financial security is nothing when weighed against physical and emotional abuse. I'd rather be alone and broke (like I am now) than live with a man who has me slammed up against a wall with his hands around my throat while screaming in my face "I love you, I would never hurt you". (I had him arrested the next day)

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  19. Ms Anonymous is not alone in this world. Unfotunately there are far too many of us who have not been raised with enough self-esteem to trust ourselves. No matter what choice Anonymous, or any of us makes, life's path is never easy. But sometimes it surprises us with a window into our inner core of strength and determination. Sometimes life's path takes us to the cliff edge and we cannot see any way forward. Some of us turn back. And the blessed few who take the leap, believing that they would plummet to their demise, discover they can fly. Too many women in this world never fly. It's not their fault - their wings were clipped at an early age. But I am here to tell you those wings regrow while we are not looking.

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    1. Wow. Gorgeous!! And so full of truth. x

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  20. Always go with your gut, dear Anonymous. Follow your instinct.

    This man has already started abusing your child emotionally. He's keeping him away from his biological family. And you are letting him.
    Once you marry him, who is to say the emotional abuse won't become worse? What if it turns into physical abuse?

    There's no true recovery from that kind of pain. Protect your son if nothing else.

    Wishing you strength and determination. Hugs.

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  21. Being true to your instincts - to that inner voice we all have - is merely being true to yourself. We ignore that often at our peril. Our instincts comes into play to save us.

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  22. I remember the post you linked above was one of your first posts that I've read and at the time I thought (and still do) that it took a lot of courage for you to write that. I think this post, as well, will be a life-changer for many.

    To Anonymous, I hope you will have the courage to listen to what your inner voice is telling you, that you will heed what it says. Someday, you will find a love that will leave no doubt in your mind about its authenticity, and that is the love that you truly deserve. I agree with the commenter above that said you are worth it - you are.

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    1. You put that so well. There ARE other choices, even if she doesn't see them now. There is another option. She does deserve to have a love that leaves no doubts. x

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  23. I hope Anon listens ...reads and heeds what you and other commenters have shared. It is so sad that people lack confidence to exit uncertain relationships.

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  24. These are great words of advice. Yes it's scary to be alone. But it's scarier to think of being hurt, or your child being hurt. Anon should trust her gut feelings and get the hell out of Dodge!

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  25. I hope and pray that Anon comes back and reads this. It took courage for her to comment, and I am hoping that writing down the words will help her sort it out in her head. It is hard being a single parent, I've done it, my daughter has done it, but it is better than having yourself and your son in a risk position. Prayers for you and your son Anon, please read what others have said here. Others that have been on the same path, find the courage and strength. xxx

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    1. I agree, it was a very courageous thing to express her doubts. It can be so hard to sort all those feelings out when you're in the middle of it. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. x

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  26. Great post, K.
    I think when everyone is giving you their opinion it's really hard to acknowledge and voice your own doubts and concerns. I hope Anon reads your post and the comments.

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    1. I agree. It takes a lot of strength to stay true to our instincts when everyone around us is telling us something else.

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  27. I have tears in my eyes and that same lurching feeling in my stomach I got when married to my ex husband. Anon listen to your doubts.

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    1. I wonder how many of us have walked that path? x

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  28. two ears ago i entered into a simlarly worrying realtionship with a guy named Julian. Around his friends he was the nicest person you could socialize with. he got along with friends and so on and it worked.

    I began seeing cracks in my own personal life within the first 6 months. -He would openly drink 10 drinks and expect to drive home to his place intoxicated.
    -He would implore me to investigate taking his own prescribed medication and pot due to long term insomnia (which was created from staying up past 2am on weekends then trying to wake at 7am and finding I couldnt. )
    -would not listen to my requests regarding seeing a councilor on the basis that he would say the worst things known to earth to me and I would break down crying and just run away.
    -would yell at me with destructive words and mannerisms.

    I was there for 10 months and in that time i had formulated after breaking down around my friends and his girl friends... that i needed to leave. My heart and my body where exhausted from having to take care of him... I wrote him a letter about how I felt went over to his place collected my stuff and left.

    It was one of the hardest things I have had to do. I remember breaking down to his parents while moving stuff and my heart panicking that he would return early.

    I hope he has grown to a better person for himself and the people around him. But i will not do that again- Annoymous... If you are worried and that person dosent make you happy all the time and is mentally abusive or even physically abusive that you break down and cry constantly... LEAVE HIM.... I want you to understand that life throws us some crap curve balls sometimes and it's important that you live and learn from them. This coming from someone who needed therapy after that relationship to piece herself back together.

    Please understand theres people that will love and support you regardless which direction you go. *cuddles*

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    1. Leaving an unhealthy relationship is hard. There are so many ramifications -- emotional, financial, often physical if there is abuse. But the ramifications for not leaving are always greater and more destructive, in my opinion. There is no easy answer. When you leave, you immerse yourself immediately into the pain and chaos of change, when you stay you only postpone what will eventually be an even more painful and chaotic passage. Thanks for sharing your story. x

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  29. Poor Anon, you must feel so lonely despite all the people around you. Kristink, as always, you have such a way with words. I know, if I was ever in this situation, you'd be the first person I'd listen to.

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  30. I do hope Anon is reading. It's a very sad situation. It's great that this person has reached out to you, and that you are in a position to offer the voice of experience. Hopefully you'll hear from them again at some stage, with a more positive story to share.

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  31. What a beautiful thing you've done here. Not only have you allowed a space for someone to post such a thought provoking comment, but you've also given some wonderful advice and allowed another space for others to join, support and advise. Beautiful. And I agree, ANON, if your heart is not in it then you turn around and you walk away, otherwise you WILL regret not listening to those doubts.

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  32. My goodness. You are truly good person. I recently discovered your blog and I've been hitting random posts through the timeline, it empties my heart to know that something this tragic happened to someone that seems so incredibly decent. But you fill my heart right back up with your posts, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to put your feelings to words and for responding so thoughtfully to your followers. I can only imagine the solace your words have given to those in similar situations. Your kids are very lucky to have such a strong mama to look up to.

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