Sanity in the face of Emotional Toxicity.

“You can forget the things people do to and for you, but you never quite forget the way they made you feel.” -some wise person.

It’s official, my husband is a professional emotional bully. I decided to start journaling as a way of staying sane. To be honest, sometimes I think I’m imagining these things. I wake up feeling like rubbish over something he did the previous evening but not quite remebering what exactly because I’ve slowly learnt to let go of the details. The feeling isn’t quite as easy to forget though. And I honestly feel like I’m losing it. I constantly think about leaving, how to do it and where to go next. It’s terrifying, and my severe anxiety doesn’t help things at all. Anyway, I regress.

Today was one of those days I normally call an off-day. My greatest achievement was getting out of bed to make breakfast and then again to make lunch. Save for a few chores here and there like doing the dishes and laundry, I spent the rest of the day watching Hostages in bed. I got out of bed at 5.30 to take a shower and start getting dinner ready. The husband came back from work earlier than usual today so dinner wasn’t ready yet and I was just out of the shower. I asked him to put the rice on for me while I dried off and got dressed. Please note that I’d already made the bean curry we were having the rice with. Anyway, he said he was tired, with all the irritation he could muster, and made a cup of tea. In another house, that would probably be okay. But in our house, tea is a weapon. Tea means you are useless at being a wife, you’ve been at home all day but my dinner isn’t ready when I come back? Tea means going to bed early, so I can deal with my uneaten meal and perhaps think twice before not having his supper ready in time tomorrow. And today was the tea kind of evening.

The rice was ready 10 minutes after I put it on. And as soon as I took it off the stove, hubby dearest announced that he was going to bed. “Won’t you eat?” I asked, not really caring. He didn’t bother to respond. Usually, I’d be worked up. We’ve been living in a foreign country for almost a year now. I’m only just starting to make friends here so for the longest time, he’s been my only source of human communication, a fact that was quickly turned into a weapon. You didn’t do what I want?  I wont talk to you. It’s sad and pathetic but it doesn’t hurt anymore.

So tonight,  when he climbed into bed and served me his usual cold treatment, I poured myself a glass of rose and pressed play on the tv series I’d been watching earlier. I’m honestly well out of rat’s behinds to give. Eventually, even the weakest become firm.

And so today, like every day for the past few months, I thought of leaving him. And then I thought of the love I deserve. A man who actually wants me, not as his servant but as his woman; his partner,  his better half.  I thought of a man who thinks I’m beautiful, who makes love to me like the world is ending.  And as usual, anxiety took over. Is that man real? Does he exist? Or is he a figment of our imaginations?

How do you deal with an emotionally abusive spouse?

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He might not hit you…

A few days ago, I came across this video on facebook. It’s a portrait of what other forms abuse in a relationship can take, even when it might not be physical. After watching this video, I was directed to a twitter topic #hemightnothityou that trended not too long ago. Reading those tweets had me crying and nodding in agreement because emotional abuse is so real! I read this particular tweet that said “#hemightnothityou but you wish he would just so you know its not just in your mind”. Emotional abuse will do that to you. It messes with your psyche so much that sometimes you might think that that kind of treatment is normal or that you are over reacting. It’s not so bad. He’s just mad. The excuses are endless. You make excuses for him to yourself, you lie to your loved ones, you cover it up and let him use you as a punching bag to make himself better. And over time, you might find that you no longer recognise yourself. An emotionally abusive person will break you bit by bit until there’s nothing left. And at that point, you might even feel lucky that at least they tolerate you. But how much is too much? And how do you deal with it? Marriage is said to be a dignified institution and the things that go on inside are to be kept private. And so most of us are silent about our turmoil. We don’t tell our friends, our families, our inlaws. We grin and we bear it because that’s what we are supposed to do. Anything else is betrayal, disloyalty, breach of oath even. My question is, are we doing ourselves any favors? And more importantly, what lessons are we teaching our children?  Is it even worth it?

With every passing day, I’m more convinced that it is not worth it. I read somewhere that your partner should be your break from the world. If they are not, throw them back to the world and keep searching. Because the truth is, a bad marriage is worse than a jail sentence. If your partner makes you feel like it might be easier to jump off a 30th floor of a building, think very carefully about what it is you are doing with them. Is any humanbeing on the planet worth it? Easier said than done, I know. Some of us have children and depend solely on our husbands for our children’s wellbeing. And so we stay in these situations for our children. We know that if we leave, he’ll abandon the children to punish us. Some of us are bound by our religions, our families, our backgrounds, our fears, you name it. And in these situations, how do we cope? How do we stay sane?

And what would we say to a young bride who might find herself in this bad situation?