Willing To Be

In/Out of Emotionally Abusive Relationship ¶ March 25





  • I have been in and out of an emotionally abusive relationship for the past 2 years. This relationship is a classic case of emotional abuse and the more I go back, the more complex and complicated it becomes. As anger and resentment continues to build up inside of me and emotional triggers from his behavior get worse, I feel like I have begun to stoop to his level– something I have never even known myself to do. The more reactive I become, the more he blames me for all of our problems.

    I have left the relationships more times than I am even willing to admit. I have tried dating other people, I’ve traveled, I’ve spent time with my friends and family. The longer I go without him, the happier and stronger I feel, but as soon as I feel lonely or weak or I hear from him,I cave and next thing I know, I’m back into things. Only to be met with the emotional abuse within a few days to a week of being around each other.

    Like most emotionally abusive relationships EVERYTHING is my fault. I am the one who needs to repair the damage. I am the one who did everything wrong, especially since I became reactive to his words and behaviors, whereas in the past I used to shut down or run away (which he also held against me and blamed me for our issues).

    It doesn’t matter if I do come in with a sound and logical approach, it’s always brought down by his outbursts.

    I want out. I want to be free. I do want to love this man anymore. I don’t want to be weak enough to go back anymore. I want a happy, healthy relationship with someone. I know I deserve that, but how the HECK do I move forward?

    I’ve been doing therapy, I’ve been focusing on myself. How do I stay strong and stay away?

    This man is not unique, he is not special, he is a narcissist.

    If you want to get away, you have to walk away and never look back.

    Here’s a fantastic website that may make the picture of what he is and the whys? clearer: http://narcraiders.wordpress.com/
    And another: http://www.lisaescott.com/welcome

    And beyond that, there’s a piece of you that you that craves what this man and those like him are offering. When you find that place and heal it, you’ll be immune to them.

    Good Luck! =)

    Wow. I came to this site for the very same reason… your letter could have been my own as I’m in the same boat and have been for more than 3 years. I know that letting go is all important and also accepting that there is probably no closure. Enigma is right. At some point it is just time to walk away. And wanting closure (also just read within this site) diminishes self-empowerment because you’re saying you need that from him, for whatever reason, before you can move on. I’ll check out the link offered, too. Thanks!

    Thanks for this, Enigma. I had never really thought of him as a, “Narcissist”. He’s not really a materialistic guy or self-consumed in the way you’d think a narcissist would be, but he definitely thinks of himself as better than most people and superior in the way he thinks as compared to other and of course the behavior as listed in the second link all line up. However, this is a new way of looking at him and his issues.

    The more logic I can help make out of so many illogical moments, the easier it is to start moving forward.

    And, you’re right. I know there’s a deep rooted place that needs to be better dealt with on my end that keeps bringing me back to him. Trying to work on that as we speak.

    Thanks again!

    Claire- hopefully you’ll be able to get some clarity as you seek to escape your situation, too. I felt so empowered the first time I left him, but each time we go back, it chips away at that empowerment. The last time I left, I was out for months and was on top of life and recently caved again. Sometimes it almost feels like an addiction and it makes me ill to think that I could even be that way.

    Does your guy make you feel like in your time away, while you’re healing yourself or practicing self-love and self-worth that you’ve somehow done something wrong? I’m made to feel that way every time. When I take space and tell him I can’t reconnect until he works on his issues and then he fools me into believing he has, he turns around and makes me feel like I”m a monster for creating space.

    As much as I hate to hear someone else is going through a similar situation, it’s nice to not feel so alone. Especially as all my good friends move into the next phases of their healthy relationships with engagements, marriages and babies… such a lonely place to be stuck in.

    I didn’t think of mine as a narcissist either. We were together for 14 years and it wasn’t until 6 months after he came home and declared he was “done” that I realized that I was in an abusive relationship. I left so many times and he reeled me back in each time with his perfect plans to change and even acted on them until he had me sucked back in. He never changed. We have a child together and I’m trapped and cannot get away. The court won’t protect me from him because proving emotional abuse is nearly impossible and requires more money than I have. He still blames me for everything including his job performance, his finances, his relationship, our son getting strep throat… it never ends. He’s paranoid and defensive in his every interaction with me and it’s exhausting.

    They are master manipulators and so charming, it’s like they put you under a spell of some sort and say all of the right words, but their actions are only short lived.

    He left two years ago and I’m still single, still working through the damage, the regret, the humiliation and healing that broken piece of me that wanted to feel the way he treated me.

    Don’t walk away… RUN.

    Wow, I am so, so sorry to hear that. I know that, “I’m sorry” doesn’t help the situation you’re in, but I hope it does empower you to know that your story and your advice helps others to avoid falling deeper into a web with someone like this.

    I’ve many times in the heat of passion thought maybe if I gave him more security in our relationship by taking things to another level together, that it would help us, but luckily I’ve come to my senses shortly thereafter each time.

    It’s scary to think how common this can be for women and what a crazy web it becomes.

    While I hate to hear you had to dedicate 14 years of your life to such a terrible situation, I’m glad that you’re able to finally start getting to a place where you can move forward and take care of yourself. I just hope your son is able to steer clear of the emotional baggage your ex carries with him.

    Stay strong. I am rooting for you. I am a believer that the more energy you put into the positive things you want out of life, the faster you can get there.

    Big, stranger-cyber hug to you.

    Hi tinywanderlust.

    I registered on this site JUST so I could reply to you and this discussion, because I was in the exact same situation as you, except my relationship was verbally and physically abusive in addition to emotionally. We were together 3 years and I left many times, like you describe, healing yourself, etc. but coming back. I wont go into great detail about my experience, except I want you to know I am now in a healthy, happy committed relationship, married to a wonderful man who I was only able to date AFTER I let go of the abusive guy.

    I dont know you at all of course but here is my advice based on my own experience.
    1. At this point your self esteem is likely fairly low because he has repeated so much negative feedback to you that you kind of believe it. So If I say something like YOU DESERVE BETTER it might not hit you the way it should. You are staying in the relationship because you still have HOPE. You have HOPE that things will change- that he will work on his issues- and that will make it OK. BELIEVE ME WHEN I TELL YOU THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN. You will only lose hope and give up on this relationship when you realize he will not change, and it has nothing to do with you. Picture yourself with him in 5, 10, 20 years. Do not only imagine the happy outcome that you are so hopeful for that has you hooked- imagine his current behavior continuing or worsening and how it will have affected your life five years from now, 10 years from now, and so on. So please imagine that future. Now imagine him without you, or imagine that he is with someone else. Do you think this is a pattern that depends on you. Probably not.
    2. VISUALIZE A HEALTHY, LOVING RELATIONSHIP. Think about what this would mean and how it would feel, to you. Imagine what being loved and supported no matter what will feel like. Imagine someone who supports and comforts you when life is hard.
    This may sound like a fairy dream, no relationship is perfect, right. Well, that is wrong. You have compromised too much, this is not him leaving socks on the floor, this is abuse. You deserve and can find real love that is not complex, complicated, or painful, or full of blame. You can find someone who loves you the way you are. You have to believe finding this kind of happiness is possible. If you look, you will see it all around you in the relationships of friends and family with functional marriages and families. Notice how your relationship is different than theirs.
    3. I have no doubt that you love this man and that he has some qualities you truly enjoy, respect, admire, and even depend on. But I will tell you one thing you do not have with him, and that is TRUST. Recognize right now that you can never, never trust someone who hurts and manipulates you. You might love them. You might call them in a moment of loneliness or even think they have a good sense of humor. But you cannot trust them, and TRUST IS EVERYTHING. Conversely, a relationship without trust is not really a relationship at all. It is simply emotional entertainment, where you are the star of your own horrifying, dark reality sitcom.
    4. FRIENDS. Abuse is pretty polarizing. If you tell your friends you are in abusive relationship, and stick around, they are likely to lose respect for you. They may not continue to be your friends. A few rare people will listen to you and tolerate the total confusion and contradictions that are evident in every word you say, but most people cannot handle this kind of grey area. You may have to go it alone. If you do have friends who see you through this, GOOD! You need support. But dont depend on them. Ultimately this will come down to a
    5 DECISIVE MOMENT. I do not know what this will be for you. But there will be a moment your relationship cannot recover from. Something inside you will die. That something is is the childish hope you are hanging on to. It will meet with the terrible reality of the situation, and it will wither and die. You will feel a steely resolve unlike any other time you have left before. Those were half hearted. This will be white hot metal.
    For me this moment came as we drove a winding road, he accelerated around hairpin curves and threatened to drive off of them. He wanted to kill us both. I closed my eyes and prayed a little but tried to accept that this was how I was going to die. I had already given up all the control that gave him the power in that moment, and there was nothing I could do.

    When he did not drive off the cliff, and I was still alive, I knew full well that if we stayed together we would both be dead.
    Up until then I had rationalized things as being a mix of positives and negatives. A series of trade offs I was willing to make. From the moment I faced the stupidity of such a pointless death, there was no tradeoff.

    6. GO AWAY. Remove your physically from this person. Take an extended trip, Teach ESL in another country, go back to school, move in with your great Aunt in Maine. I dont care. If you risk getting back together even after you have risked your life to be with him, you need to detoxify your heart and mind somewhere remote and new.

    i was in a emotionaaly abusive relationship , i left him realized what E. Budda said the decisive moment, i met him after a couple of yrs he infact called to tell me how he was, married a perfect husband who brought grocerry home , took his wife to worlds loveliest destinations, i cant understand how a manipulator turned into a perfect husband, now he is a father too, did i made a mistake in leaving him afterall i gave 10 yrs of my life to him.

    Thank you for your kind words. It’s been 2 years, I’ve got some distance, I’m pretty healthy these days!! Enough to pour my humiliation on a public forum at least! =) I’m grateful he left, I’m grateful that my son wont grow up seeing his mother abused. I still worry because narcissists breed narcissists, that’s what created it in him! My friends tell me that my son will be fine because I’m his mom and I see it now. =)

    You have an advantage over me, you realize it’s abuse and you’re willing to look at it honestly. I hope for you that you take the words here to heart and flyyyyyyyyyyyyyy away, that man exists to steal your wings!! =)))

    <3 <3 <3

    But i have seen his picks with his wife, he didnt move a fingre for me , but he does everything for her, he told me that he didnt want a child with me and would like me to abort it if it eveer happened, but i saw him and his wife holding a baby i feel so low it just kills me.

    Hi E. Buddha,

    Wow. I’m sitting here sobbing, tears and snot pouring out of me like a broken faucet.

    I can’t even begin to tell you how not only impactful your reply is, but also how spot on you are on so many levels. No one has ever been able to compare it and pull out the feelings and emotions so well. Points number 3, 4 and 5 really hit close to home. No one ever stops to consider the fact that there have been positives and good things that keep people in situations like this coming back for more, making excuses for the abuse because there are good things and you minimize the abuse in your mind, because after all- there’s all this other, “good stuff”. I’m lucky and feel blessed to have friends who haven’t left my side. However, to your point, they hit a breaking point where they were tired of hearing about it and finally starting practicing some “tough love” on me. It’s taken time to repair some of the damage being with him caused in those friendships, but they are back on track.

    The past 3-6 months have been the biggest moments for me in terms of change. We used to work together and I had to see him every day. Needless to say, pretty hard to detach and move forward when that person is in front of you, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I had a great job at an amazing company, but it made it impossible to fully move forward, so in December, I left, took the last 3 months off and spent time traveling and focusing on myself. A week before leaving for a trip half way around the world (which was 2 weeks ago), we started speaking again and spent time together, and low and behold- there I was back in it. When I returned, I thought maybe we were going to work things out, but the DAY I returned (this past Saturday) we fell back into another cycle and the abuse started again and I ran away (again), and I think, no.. I KNOW, I’m finally at my #5 of your point.

    I spent 3 months empowering myself, feeling happy and carefree again. Nourishing and nurturing friendships and family relationships that had all been bruised and impacted by having this man in my life. I finally thought, “How the HELL could I give all of this up again for THIS? I DON’T hate myself, so why would I act like I do?” I’m at a pivotal time right now (I just walked away on Saturday) where I need to do all the hard work to stay the F away from this man.

    5 Steps To Escaping An Emotionally Abusive Relationship | Julie Orlov
    Join relationship coach and counselor Julie Orlov on our Facebook page
    Thursday, June 21 at 2 pm EST to ask all of your love and relationship questions!
    http://www.yourtango.com/experts/julie-orlov/5-steps-free-yourself-controlling-relationship-expert

    I threw myself back into therapy immediately. I went and saw an energy healer (which I know sounds a little silly, but a friend recommended it and I’m willing to try anything at this point), and she picked up on EVERYTHING without me even having to utter a word.

    Luckily, the energy healer gave me some techniques that are already helping me feel the strength to detach, not just physically, but also emotionally. But, I know this road isn’t going to be an easy one and I also realize there’s some deeper digging I need to do in terms of what drew me to a relationship like this in the first place. Luckily, I have an understanding of where that needs to begin.

    Anyway, E. Buddha- to hear that you were in such a similar situation and were still able to find your way to a happy, healthy, respectful relationship and marriage is inspiring and gives me hope. I have so many wonderful people around me who are in very loving, balanced, healthy relationships and all I want is to find that and have that.

    I visualize myself in this happy partnership with a solid, kind man, but there’s this place, deep in the back of my mind that plays games with that process. Sometimes I can visualize it and feel it and believe it, and then, every so often this little voice inside says, “But, you won’t find it. You are only capable of drawing in the wrong ones.” I hate that voice and that place and all I want to do is make it go away.

    So, I guess that’s where I am today– at a place where I see the writing on the wall, know what needs to be done and dealt with. Just need to make a promise to myself to stick with it and know that it won’t be easy and that’s okay, because eventually it’ll all be worth it.

    I’m so happy you found a great guy. If you’re reading this, when you’re done, go to him, give him the biggest hug ever from all of us who are inspired to know that men like him exist.

    Thank you so much for your words and sharing your story. I’m printing this out and keeping it close by to read during the moments when I feel the weakness of his pull tugging at me.

    Strange to feel so connected to a stranger after something as simple as a blog forum response.

    Hi Ainka-

    The fact that he feels the need to reach out to you and say ANYTHING to you at all, is proof that this man is still a manipulator. Don’t be fooled by what you see on the outside. To the point E. Buddha made, get yourself away from him where you don’t have to see things in front of you. Move somewhere else if you can. Change your number. Do something different for yourself. A man who could make you feel so low and question yourself, even when he is with another woman is NOT the man for you.

    Think of it this way- if this man is so happy with his wife and is such a, “changed” man, then why would he EVER feel the need to reach out to you at all? He’s doing it, because he’s the same old nasty, abusive man he was when he was with you.

    Just because he had a child with this woman, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have other ways in which this behavior will come out.

    Spend time healing yourself. Spend time loving yourself. Spend time focusing on what you really want so that when that man comes, you’re ready for him.

    Good luck.







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