*this article was written in June, 2016 therefore the events mentioned in this article may not match what has already happened.
This is a particularly difficult article for me to write. There is a line from Alice in Wonderland that perhaps best explains this for me.
“ If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
Of course not. It is nonsensical. And that is why this is so difficult to write.
I have come, am still emerging, from this nonsensical place, like Wonderland, where down is up and up is down and I am still reeling from the confusion of it all. Like falling into the rabbit hole, I said “I do” and my marriage became my Wonderland. Instead of consuming a cake that bore the words eat me, a wedding cake ushered in my new reality.
My Wonderland was a conglomeration of fiction mixed with a dash of truth peppered with answerless riddles tailored to making me feel like I was crazy. This is the insidious face of abuse. Smoke in mirrors, slight-of-hand and hocus pocus all known by other names: gaslighting, love bombing, blame shifting and projection.
Just like the most realistic dream can cause you to question reality upon awakening, I still find myself questioning the reality of my situation. Just last night I found myself walking along the edge of the rabbit hole again, dangerously close to falling back into my altered reality until a friend pointed out my illogical and inconsistent thinking, remarking that I seemed to be looking for excuses to place myself back in harm’s way.
Like an insect drawn to the deadly light, I was ignoring the danger, heading straight back towards the behavior and thinking that I had adopted for so long in order to survive my Wonderland.
Even this morning, I reflected on my last 15 years and questioned whether it was really as bad as I thought it was. This happens from time to time and I have to stop and recall the details of the past and objectively examine each one and tell myself: “That was not normal.” This has to be done by conscious effort. It does not come easily.
If you have made it this far and you are beginning to ask questions about everything that has been happening to you, this is good news and a huge step! Identification is a major accomplishment.
Do you remember the poppy field that lay just outside the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz? It was enchanted by the wicked witch. Running through the field, Dorothy and company grew drowsy until at last they were fast asleep amongst the poppies. A friend was the first to compare my situation to this. He remarked that my husband was like the poppy field and I, Dorothy. And whenever I started to “wake up,” he somehow managed to lull me to sleep again using the tactics he had found so effective all those years. For me the effective tactic was “Jekyll.”
I thought I had come up with this description on my own but found out that this is actually a very common description of abusive people. All one has to do is type the words Jekyll, Hyde, and abuse at the same time into a search engine to yield days worth of articles to read. A fantastic one that I strongly recommend can be found on the website called cryingoutforjustice.com and is titled Jekyll or Hyde. (Remember Dr. Jekyll is the scientist and Mr. Hyde his evil alter ego). In summary, it explains that Jekyll is not the nice guy that you just know exists if all the right conditions are met, but rather a manifestation of abuse. For the abuser it is all about manipulation and control. For the victim it is about hope. (There is a vital article about this concept coming up.)
All of this “waking up” and being lulled back to sleep makes for a two-steps forward, one step back scenario. (And sometimes, the reverse). The abuser is so effective at manipulating his victim that it is very difficult for the victim to even identify what’s happening let alone explain it. And because the abuser has put so much time and effort into learning the best way to control his victim, the victim is often left confused and feeling crazy.
I still struggle with this too. It has taken exactly 5 months and one day away from him to get to the point where I could start writing this. I had to distance myself both in location and communication in order to start the detox process.
Please understand this is not what I saw or understood at the beginning. I only knew I needed to get away and was desperately hoping my husband would wake up at the loss of his wife and children in his life. That he would drastically change his patterns and choices to salvage his marriage and family. I naively thought I would be returning home in 2-3 weeks.
One thing I have done here is mentioned some of these abuse tactics but have done nothing to explain them. I will attempt to do so in following articles as each one will need its own post. I also want to direct you to credible sources for more information on these tactics as I will be mostly coming from the perspective of having been subjected to them. These are complex forms of psychological abuse.
Another thing that I struggle with is the idea that any of this will be helpful to those who may read it. After all, this is just my personal story. There are thousands more like it. Why should mine be of interest to anyone else?
The one thing that echoes over and over to me is this: I am not alone. For every one of me there are a multitude more of you.
If you are here, perhaps you are trying to figure out what has been happening to you, trying to make sense of it all. Or perhaps you are a friend or family member wanting to understand and help.
There is so much for you to know and understand and decipher. It will be a long hard journey. Stay with me and I will walk through it with you. I hope my story helps you to know you are not alone. It will be difficult. This has been the hardest situation I have ever dealt with and I am still near the beginning of this path.
So, be brave. Take the next step. Read on. I will be here writing more of my story to share with you.