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Why did you let it happen? [Dec. 9th, 2010|10:06 am]

Why did you let him do that? Why didn't you tell anyone sooner? Why are you putting all the blame on him? What did YOU DO TO HIM? You must have invited that behavior, or at least put up with it.

These are the bad questions. These are the ones that frighten me, and make me fear telling anyone anything. Because some people are more comfortable with the idea of "domestic abuse" in the way that they believe it exists. That it only happens to certain people, and only a certain TYPE of person does that sort of thing, and only a certain TYPE of person "accepts" or "invites" abuse.

The truth is, I spent years and years buying and reading and renting and Googling "relationship" issues.

I put in the hard work.

I changed myself, and changed the way I spoke, and communicated differently, and tried and tried and tried. I was tenacious. I dug my teeth into this marriage and refused to accept the crap treatment for my children and for myself, but just like everyone else, I didn't know anything about ABUSE. If Brad ended a conversation with violence and intimidation, the next thing he would tell me is that I was hysterical and overly emotional and if I HAD TREATED HIM DIFFERENTLY, HE WOULDN'T HAVE DONE X, Y, Z. And I started to believe it. For 3 years, I changed myself this way and that way. I avoided this and that, memorized the things Brad didn't like in GREAT, EXTENDED detail, watched for the early warning signs. I know every physical gesture of his that denotes the least bit of stress, every facial twitch, every silly little thing out of place in the livingroom that might cause him distress. 3 years, I believed that I was just hard to live with, not a good mom, not a good wife, not good at cleaning, cooking to suit him, not good at everything ever.

3 years, I thought to myself, WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY DOES HE DO THIS? WHY DOES HE DO THIS TO ME? WHY DOES HE DO THIS TO BAILEY? Why doesn't he treat us with at least the courtesy and respect you offer to STRANGERS?! I say what I think I'm supposed to say to any other rational human being, but it makes no difference. The things I said and did in

BY GOD, I WISH that I DID have more the the blame here. Don't you see that? I'm NEVER one to say, "It wasn't MY fault!" of "HE did it!" I can see if you don't know me well, you don't know that the first thing I do is try to find some responsibility, something I can claim, good or bad, so that I can go about making it better.

Wracking my brain.

Somehow, really, if this were all my fault, then I would have some control over things. It would be easier. If I HAD driven him away, or been horrible, or asked for mistreatment, or did other things. I can't even think of what I could have done, or how I should have known . . . but GOD, if I had more of the burden of this! IF I HAD turned around and done to him what he had done to me, or withdrawn affection, or if I had even GIVEN UP ON HIM, or SOMETHING. But here I am, having danced and wept and rejoiced having realized exactly how hard and how valiantly I have tried over the years, and STILL TRYING. Silly. Stupid.

Let me be the first to say that I'm probably not easy to live with. I was about to type that I have really high standards that are hard to measure up to . . . But I honestly don't know if this is true. That's what Brad had been saying to me for years, and maybe I absorbed that and started to believe it . . . but if you look at the situation, I made do with sub-par treatment for years, so how can that be a logical consistency?

Some hard and uncomfortable truths: I had no support, I was mistreated, and I did things during this time that I'm ashamed of as well. I'm a yeller, and a stubborn, don't-back-down kind of person.

Look up financial abuse, before you judge me for this next uncomfortable truth~

When Brad told me over and over again, we had no money and I couldn't spend anything, and to check with him and check with him, and sorry we don't have the money for groceries, once I went to a large chain store, pretended I was shopping, took some readily edible food for me and Bailey, and we went to the cafeteria and ate it -- without checking out.

Once, in sheer frustration that Brad was not listening and shutting me out YET AGAIN, I threw my water bottle as he walked away, making a small hole in the wall. (What followed was a bad scene, because Brad turned right back around and made me sorry for doing that, even though I was already saying SORRY SORRY SORRY, over and over again.)

Let's see . . . what else can I confess?
In this past year, before the separation, I started to threaten Brad that I would commit myself to the hospital for exhaustion and mental breakdown. I don't threaten things I'm not ready to follow through on. Ask Bailey; he knows.

Oh, I lost a friend recently. Took him off my FB friend's list because he never checked on me, never asked me questions, and certainly didn't read the book I lent him on abuse that I begged him to read to help him and me understand what was going on. Instead of asking me any questions, he took it upon himself to take a corrective stance with me, telling me that I should have more consideration for Brad who was stressed out about money, and that I shouldn't be spending any. I agreed with him. I SHOULD save money, shouldn't I? But when it came time for me to explain in more detail the ways in which I had been constrained and the ways in which Brad had spent recklessly, he decided that I was saying that I "deserved" to spend as much money as Brad had done recklessly "while [I] hadn't been standing up to him" <---which offended me greatly.

I am a flawed human being.
I suck sometimes.
I don't do the right thing ALL THE FREAKING TIME.
I'll admit when I'm wrong. I like constructive criticism.
BUT I do not EVER accept criticism from those who have not read the words they are trying to write all over with red pen.

I'm a real person.

I have stolen. It haunts me. I have lost my own temper. It haunts me. I have spanked Bailey. I TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. I apologized to him, told him that there was no excuse, and that the people who love you SHOULDN'T hurt you.

But I can't take responsibility for the things Brad has done, and now that he is stepping forth and really taking responsibility for his actions . . . I can start to think that maybe he can be in the 1% of abusive men who actually change.


[User Picture]From: camberlea
2010-12-10 05:53 am (UTC)
Leslie, I love you for this post.

Well... for other reasons too. But thank you for having the courage to throw it out there.

You, your beautiful children, and even Brad are in my thoughts :-)

Edited at 2010-12-10 05:53 am (UTC)
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