Friday, September 28, 2012
Living With My Worst Fears
So began my new existence. Once or twice every month I would spend an entire Friday in court, waiting to have Peter’s latest motion heard. The motions were meant to humiliate me, break me, and defeat me. Much of the content was completely unnecessary. The mental illness argument would present great difficulties disproving. He had spent years establishing this. With his counseling degree and professional experience he had “diagnosed me” with the worst diagnoses in custody battles outside of Schizophrenia. He stated that I refused to maintain treatment throughout our marriage. This could not be further from the truth; he had required me to be in therapy, always selecting the therapist and “monitoring my progress.” I, too eager to please this abuser, would agree and allow myself to be convinced of what he was telling me was wrong with me. I was so worn down with years of being judged and scrutinized; every detail of my life analyzed, and with him setting the standard impossibly high, always shifting expectations, I was an on-going failure. The only reason I would stop attending therapy was for financial reasons. We often did not have money for necessities, how could I justify spending money on therapy? Peter would also criticize me for being in such need of therapy that I put the family in financial ruin. I was in a perpetual cycle of “doing what he said” to find it only used against me in another circumstance. I didn’t have a self, or a shred of self confidence-respect-esteem, therefore, I did not have the ability to decide what would be best in each circumstance; I was only trying to please Peter. Now I realize that was/is impossible; I wish I had known earlier…
By the end, my middle daughter and he would regularly mock me and laugh at my parenting when I attempted to discipline her and our interactions became volatile, in part, because she was treated more like the spouse and me like the child. The family dynamic became very confusing and dysfunctional; I was in a romantic/love triangle with one of my daughters. My older daughter remained open minded and defensive of my work in and outside of the house until Peter moved out. Peter parented her in an entirely different way; he was very hard on her and controlling, making her work at a very young age. But by the time I was blindsided in court, she had turned on me with such a vengeance it took my breath away.
This did not happen overnight, and I assisted Peter in my own destruction. Peter had been using the girls as pawns, cultivating a worship of him. He was special; he had special powers to understand people and powers to correct any and all situations/jobs he found himself a participant. There weren't jobs or churches or environments good enough for him, not even his family until he needed them to help destroy me. When it came to me, he nudged the girls directly and indirectly to be antagonistic, independently confronting me, or with him. I see it now, over the years they began to slowly lose respect for me. Peter would contradict just about any parental idea I had, relax my attempts to establish order, and explain to the girls that I didn’t know what I was doing, just do as he said. He convinced us all that he was the better parent. If this were a partnership and him not wanting absolute power and control, we would have been united, he would've built me up and supported my parenting, expressing appreciation for my work and sacrifices for the family. With me working so much, his turn of the children away from loving and respecting me, as their mother, was easily done.
He often involved them in our fighting. On one occasion, a couple of years before the beginning of the divorce, we began fighting over him wanting to become a massage therapist. He had been recently demoted at work and the job was now beneath him; he was humiliated to remain. My concerns were twofold: yet another certification and not only time without employment, but quite expensive and time consuming to pursue the trade of “licensed massage therapist.” The second concern was other women (and I didn’t know he was currently engaged in an affair with a subordinate at work). Peter had already shown himself to not have much restraint regarding women. As outlined in Figure 1. The Vicious and Escalating Cycle, he did not consider or even listen to my concerns. The argument ended in him dragging me around the house by my feet, straddling me, choking me, growling degrading and belittling statements inches from my face. I was in bad shape, crying, yelling, and fighting back. This time, however, I called the police. He woke my oldest daughter out of bed and dragged her downstairs. He grabbed my face and told her to look at me and notice how out of control and emotional I was. He told her to look at him and notice how calm he was. He went on to tell her that “her mother” was disturbed and crazy and that he had no choice but to “restrain” me, only to protect himself. All the while asking her to nod and show him she understood. [My attorney says that even police still don’t understand domestic violence. Of course the abuser is fine, he/she just vented on, controlled and abused another person, and they are calm and relieved of stress. Meanwhile, the victim is unheard, controlled, scared, upset, and traumatized. They look like the one with the problem, as I did with Peter.] This had happened, in this way, with my oldest daughter, at least a dozen times over the years, starting at a very young age. My middle daughter heard (witnessed a few times when her father brought her, also, out of her bedroom to look at me) escalated fighting, with me the loudest, but not as much as the oldest. Peter was generally always calm; his abuse very quiet, subtle and difficult to prove. I helped in my destruction because I was emotionally out of control at times in the home.
Peter, desperately, told our daughter it was up to her to prevent her dad from going to jail. He told her exactly what to say. When the police arrived they separated us. I was taken outside, in the dark; he stayed inside with our daughter. The police “did not see any bruises,” (they of course came out later on my arms, legs and neck and how could they see anything without light) and my daughter did as she was told, so he was only sent to a hotel for the evening.
The next day I called him apologizing and begging for forgiveness. I felt I was the one who was wrong because I was emotionally out of control. This is embarrassing, but my response is typical of long term abuse. He agreed to come home and asked for “complete submission” for him to stay in the house. He also said “that if I ever called the police again, he would take my children, all the money, the house…and it would be very easy to do considering my mental illness [emotionally out of control].” You had better believe I was on my best behavior.
There was a great deal of conflict throughout the 20 years, mostly the typical problems: sex, money, in-laws and children. We, however, were not a team, not ever working toward resolution or negotiation, not working on a marriage or partnership. He had ulterior motives and shifting, insatiable needs, expectations and desires.
One night while the children were with Peter (most of the time) I was going through the things that he had left. Hidden in the garage I found his journals. I’ve always believed journaling to be about individual growth, healing, and self reflection. His “journals” were documentation of me….hundreds and hundreds of pages. I could not believe it. He had been documenting me, without my knowledge, since the beginning. Entries included date, time, and event. An event could be something like.. we were driving in the car, and I pulled too far into the intersection and because that is something a teenager and inexperienced driver would do, I had slipped into a teenager personality and he named it… This went on and on. I had “affairs” with women and men I could not even remember. I was having sex and inappropriate relationships with nearly everyone I came across. He documented emails and phone numbers he had taken off of my phone. He documented conversations he overheard while I was on the phone. He documented what I was wearing and who I was interacting with while wearing those clothes. They were books of all of my wrongs, mostly wrongs against him, real and imagined. To document someone to this degree is not to love them. This is behavior one engages in to “prove” or “win” or “fight injustice.” I felt sick and numb. Peter was obsessed with controlling and monitoring me. No wonder he couldn’t work for very long, no wonder he so easily brought out his “black box” of my errors in life and marriage to use against me while arguing. No wonder I escalated, how could I compete? No wonder he was so prepared that first day in court…That’s not normal, right?
So what he had successfully done, and proven with the best eye witnesses possible, was that I was emotionally de-stabilized to the point of dissociation. This can be accomplished by making the environment, of someone who already has post traumatic stress disorder, unstable and unpredictable. Peter offered no safety/security financially or emotionally, offered no love and commitment and most often expressed that he was “one foot in and one foot out of the relationship,” and “that he loved me but wasn’t in love with me.” Peter told me I was worthless and would be alone if not for him, and was so financially irresponsible left me working and problem solving to the point of 3 jobs. I felt like I could not get to solid ground, a foundation or a person (remember I was isolated as well) to count on. Of course I was unsettled and de-stabilized. He, I believe intentionally, was doing the exact opposite of what I needed and rightly expected in marriage and a partnership.
Though I copied those journals thinking I could prove his obsession (there was a lot of bizarre sexual content as well), the Guardian ad Litem and our family psychological evaluator were not concerned about him, but only me. His part did not matter and I was required to attend Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for 2.5 hours every week in addition to individual therapy 1 hour a week and my “rehab” continued. In addition to these requirements, I worked full time and still provided all insurance. I was the crazy drunk taking care of a family of five!
at 10:46 AM