Having been abused is no excuse for abusing

AH and I both have the lovely privilege of coming from abusive homes. There are differences and similarities to the abuses we survived. Did one of us have it “worse”? Possibly. Maybe. Might have been me because I remember so vividly most of my abuse and it wasn’t pretty. The doctors call it “Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. Yeah, I get abuse flashbacks. Not fun. AH has totally dissociated from most of his abuse. So maybe he did have it worse. Does it matter? Well, only in how we choose to process it and act on it in our daily lives.

When I try to talk to AH and tell him that what we have isn’t a marriage, I try to remind him of our pre-marriage talks. I remind him that what I was looking for at that time was a life-partner. That I dreamed of walking a path together, not always noticing or valuing the same things, but within earshot of each other, together to help if one of us stumbled or needed to rest. I ask him why he agreed with me if that wasn’t something he valued. He shrugs. He hates my questions. I’m stupid to keep asking them. Why do I ask? I’m trying to cling to reality, trying to assure myself that we did talk these things through. Trying to assure myself that there is something to work at. Because, you see, I still believe, I’m still convinced I’m “over-reacting”. I’m making it all up. All of this is my fault. That lovely bit of work is courtesy of The Anti-Mom. She assured me on a regular basis that my tears, fears and feelings were from over-reacting and not anything truly disturbing or painful. And to this day I believe it.

I’m reading into things. AH reinforces this. If I ask him to clarify his response is: “It’s just like I said it”. If I answer based on what I heard, I’m “reading into things”.

I’m over-reacting. If I am hurt by an action, words or thoughtlessness, it is my problem for being “too sensitive” and not his for being “too callous”.

I ask him: What do you think marriage is supposed to be? What is marriage to you? What do you seek from marriage?

He answers: I don’t know, I never saw a healthy marriage, how do I know how to be married?

I ask him: then how can you tell me how to behave or act, how do you know how a wife is supposed to act?

Silence.

Every time I ask about these things, I am told he is this way…

because he came from an abusive family.

He doesn’t know how to be a father.

He doesn’t know how to be a husband, partner or friend to me.

He doesn’t know how to do many things.

Because he was never modeled them. Because he was abused.

I ask him: Don’t you know what behaviour feels pleasant and safe to you?

Silence.

I ask him: How can you tell me the words or actions I do that you don’t like?

Silence.

I know the truth. And I feel trapped. I’m dying. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know where to turn. The only thing I know is this is building a huge series of brick walls between us. And I didn’t bring the bricks or mortar.

He doesn’t want me to be happy. He doesn’t want me, it seems. But why won’t he let me go?

I know the answer.

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