Trauma Response

I read a great quote the other day:

There have been times during this divorce process I have felt ashamed for my actions. Things I’ve done that were ways of coping.

One of the hardest things is that I have learnt to shut down. I have done things in order to escape the pain. I have isolated myself.

The truth is that right now I’m a bit of a mess. My counsellor asked me the other day to write down the times I stood up to my husband. I can count very few. Once was when he was going to hang himself (manipulation), and I told him that he could do it just not in the front yard where my kids could find him. He stopped threatening that for a long time. The next time was after he had smashed a door and I made him leave for two weeks. Another time was when he wanted a threesome with my friend and I refused and he wouldn’t speak to me, but I didn’t care. Lastly was probably when I left him.

It wasn’t that I didn’t try. It’s that it so often felt useless. He would bully or manipulate his way no matter what I said.

Since the separation it has been hard. Looking back on so many times I have given in for years to his suicide threats. I gave in for years to his control. The days on end he wouldn’t speak to me while I tried to ‘fix it’. Walking on eggshells so I don’t upset him. I slowly did get stronger and learnt to ignore the moods, but it didn’t hurt any less.

I was stuck. Trapped. In a country I wasn’t entitled to welfare, I was a SAHM and had no job and no financial support.

He would create a fight every time I went to a woman’s night. He would distance me from my friends. He even changed our phone number once so my Mum couldn’t call me. If he didn’t get sex he would create an argument until 4am until as a tired Mum of five kids I would finally relent. #coercedconsentisnoconsent . He would want anal sex, and every time we had sex (it was a lot) he would try to make it anal and I would constantly have to be redirecting him. I would wake in the night to him on top of me having sex with me. #unconciouspeoplecantgiveconsent ! He wanted a threesome with my friend and I said no, then one day woke up to already being in the middle of one #nomeansno

At the same time I was raising five kids. I was carrying the entire mental load of the family, while dealing with his constant mood fluctuations and demands. He wanted a servant, not a wife.

The problem is when you put up with things, they never change. You learn to live in the boiling pot until one day you are so defeated, so tired from fighting for your marriage, for your kids, for your own headspace that you break. And I broke. My breaking included having an emotional affair. I escaped into a world where someone was kind. Where they saw me. Where I was noticed.

The truth is, while it seemed this broke us up because I wanted someone else, the truth is that it broke us up because it finally gave me the strength to say enough.

But going through the divorce is really no different. I’m still carrying the mental load. I’m still backing down to ‘appease’ him. Because I want a harmonious family for my kids.

When he was here staying (he is living in a different state) I backed down and allowed him to sleep in my bed due to lack of room. I allowed him to cuddle me. I allowed him to massage me a couple of times – until I realised it wasn’t about me, but his own sexual gratification. I allowed him to kiss me even though I hated it – because I am always trying to keep the peace due to the repercussions being harder than putting up with something. When I woke up to him getting me off, I didn’t say anything even though I felt sick to my stomach – firstly at him for touching me while I was sleeping and secondly for my body betraying me and orgasming.

I’m still carrying the mental load of our kids. I’m still carrying the mental load of renovating so we can sell the house. On top of that I’m realising so many of his behaviours were abusive, and having to deal with the emotions I kept buried for years in order to ‘get through’.

After the separation I did quite well, until the other man pursued me to have an affair with him. To be fair I considered it, then rejected it. I am worth too much to be someone’s bit on the side. His wife is worth too much for him to cheat one her – as a side note, he still contacts me. I’m going to send my boys to see him this week to let him know they know and it ends now. But after that I was so devastated at the let down I escaped into smoking again. I escaped by spending almost every night at my neighbours – it was the one place I could go and watch tv, or listen to music and not think. My mind is tired. I’m tired. I also escape my sleeping. I believe I escaped in our marriage by overeating.

One thing I have realised in the last week is that I am so drained by carrying all of this. The guilt, the decision to end the relationship and the weight that holds, the house, the kids. I’m exhausted. I need help. Counselling has been great and also incredibly painful as it brings up so many emotions. Like why did I not stand up to him more? Why do I still always try to ‘keep the peace’. Why do I ‘shut down’?

But it’s time to stop escaping. It’s time to get this journey done and dusted. I’m having my kids over for dinner in a couple of days and I’m asking for their help. For them to step in where I am unable.

1. I want it clear there will be no reconciliation

2. I want them to understand where I am at

3. I want it clear when ex moves back in three weeks I will not visit them, but my door is always open

4. I want them to understand I won’t do ‘family’ birthdays.

5. I need them to help me finish the house.

6. I want my boys to go sort other married man out (non violently)

7. I need their help. I don’t just want it, but I need it. I’m scared of my future – of being homeless due to lack of housing. I’m scared of buying and making a mistake. I’m scared of being alone forever even though I know I’ll cope.

Trauma binds us. It traps us. I refuse to stay trapped in trauma or in a marriage that is abusive. I will move on from this. I will learn how not to shut down, escape, or freeze, or stand up for myself. Because I need to. I cannot become emotionally healthy without it.

The future has so much hope. By 2022 I want my life to be mine, I want to be on a journey where the trauma is healing, where I am not afraid, and where I have confidence and faith in my own decisions.