Jan
30

Mistaken Emotions in Dysfunctional Relationships

By

Psychological Abuse, Emotional Abuse

In my process of Emerging from Broken, I came to realize that I had a lot of emotions mixed up and defined the wrong way. Emotions had been modeled to me by others all mixed up with other emotions and then labelled wrong so I had learned emotion in a twisted way.  Because of various forms of abuse, fear was associated with love. Love was associated with danger. Compliments were associated with a warning signal. I learned to trust the untrustworthy.

About a week ago, my husband Jimmy found the exact snowmobile that he had been searching for and we decided to head up to Radium Hot Springs and pick it up.  We live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Southern Alberta Canada. We have about a three hour drive through the mountains to get to Radium Hot Springs which is in British Columbia. We set out around noon and we figured that we would have about an 8 or 9 hour round trip with stops. 

Jim’s parents live in Radium Hot Springs. I have not been there for at least 6 years and as we set off I became aware of some feelings that felt familiar. It felt like excitement. It felt like an adventure.  We stopped at a gas station and I was thinking that it would be great to get some junk food for the trip. (I didn’t act on that thought but I did note that I often crave food as a solution for feelings of stress and anxiety) As we proceeded through all the familiar sights and landmarks, I started to have memories from all the other trips years ago that we had made to Radium.

I remembered getting ready for those trips ~ yelling at the kids, feeling like I couldn’t cope and that I couldn’t possibly get all the things done that needed to be done and have the kids and myself ready in time to leave the house. I remember being impatient with the kids because they were excited and being loud and silly. I remembered walking on egg shells around my husband and not really knowing why. I remembered that he always seemed to be in a dark mood, but I thought that he was just overburdened with trying to get his work done on our farm before we left for a holiday.

I remembered finally getting started on the journey and the kids would be laughing and goofing off in the back seat and it got on my nerves and I was afraid that it was going to get on their fathers nerves and so I reprimanded them constantly. “Shush!! Settle down, be quiet, behave, be good” and all those others types of expressions. 

On this recent trip, as Jim and I got closer to Radium and approaching the Radium Hot Springs pool, I remembered rounding this same corner in the past and getting this extreme feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach… knowing that we were almost there. The kids would be barely able to contain themselves.

And suddenly, it hit me.  That feeling wasn’t excitement. That feeling was anxiety. That feeling was fear and intuition. That feeling that I had always thought was excitement over getting away to visit my husband’s parents at their beautiful mountain home, was apprehension. And what I thought was the kids excitement was actually the anxiety that Jimmy and I were causing them by our feelings of fear and apprehension.  We were driving to the source of most of our relationship difficulties. Without realizing it back then, we were apprehensive and nervous about being back in the home of people who we were not good enough for, who always reminded us that we “did life the wrong way,” that our decisions were not great, that our parenting skills were lacking. Both Jimmy and I were so used to this feeling that we actually thought it was “excitement”.

And being with people that define me that way and make me feel like a failure isn’t exciting at all. It is devaluing. It can become debilitating. But I didn’t know those words yet. Psychological abuse is very hard to comprehend or articulate when you have lived with it all your life.

I remember the “excitement” that my mother exhibited when my father was coming home from a business trip. I thought it was excitement, but in reality it was her anxiety. She acted the same way when he was on his way home from his regular work day. I thought that was normal. I associated it with love and marriage. I often got hit and punished when my mother was “excited” so seeing her that way was a warning and was accompanied with feelings of impending doom for me.  But I thought the whole thing was just about excitement. I remember those same feelings when we were going on holidays when I was a kid. I knew the beach was at the other end of the journey and that was exciting, but I also knew that I was going to get whacked, disapproved of and yelled at, all throughout that same journey. And I learned to call all the anxiety, fear and apprehension ~ excitement. 

We always have great discussions here through the comments section. These discussions contribute to the emotional healing of many. Please share your thoughts about mistaken emotions.   

Exposing Truth, One Snapshot at a Time

Darlene Ouimet

Related posts on Dysfunctional Relationships :

 Controllers and Manipulative People don’t question themselves

More on Mother Daughter Dysfunctional Relationship

Categories : Family

29 Comments

1

Frantic cooking, cleaning, dressing up and making sure no one is his parking space. Stay away from the house, don’t be loud, don’t upset things. That was my home.

Knots in stomach – excited about a trip or terrified of arriving? I think we are taught, just as you said Darlene, to interpret our instincts and intuitions wrongly. We are taught to be ‘excited’ and ignore when our body is screaming warnings at us.

Very well written post and it certainly does cement for me a number of loose issues surrounding my own feelings towards family, and some who are no longer family. There are some physical places I don’t think I’m ready to go back to because of the emotional avalanche I’m afraid will crush me. Someday, maybe…

2

WOW! What a topic for today of all days! I don’t know how to express my jumbled thoughts but I’m gonna try. Memories really hit me hard when I read about your trip and your memories. Although in this case it happens to be me as the child so that is the perspective I will be trying to write from. As a kid, I remember having this nervous “excitement” when a trip was in the plans. I learned to hold my breath, so to speak, until we were actually at least halfway to the destination. Mostly because I knew my bio dad enough to realize that at a moments notice that trip could be cancelled. Promises were made that we would go to ________ wedding or something like that. Then we were told that we weren’t going, or we weren’t told we just did not go. And even being with family or friends was very stressful. It was an expected thing to be degraded in front of everyone. And to be questioned: “what were you and _____ talking about?” Was I gonna tell? NO!!! Were the “reins” drawn even tighter? Ya! I dreaded going on a trip for that alone. I would get giddy before a trip. Looking back I realize it was because I was so nervous and scared.
Recently two of my sisters and I went on a trip together. It was the best trip I have ever taken. And it was then that I realized – part of the reason trips were so dreaded was cause my bio family was slandered and made out to be mean, unforgiving, unaccepting, etc…. And I found out why. My grandparents took in 3 of my siblings when they left home. And it made my bio father mad. So he slandered them. I look at my Grandparents now and they are most amazing. They are so courageous for taking my siblings in when no one else had the courage to do that.
It also caught my eye that “Compliments were associated with warning signals.” Oh, ya! I still have a hard time with compliments. I will usually ask people not to compliment me, because I go into “survival mode” immediately and panic.
I don’t know how this fits, but I am going to share it anyway. I just went back to school and that has brought a lot of unbidden thought to my mind. I was homeschooled previously and I hated it. Partly because I was under so much stress. But also because my father knew that I was having a struggle with it and when I had a problem and wasn’t getting it on my own or was frustrated with my work, all he said was, “Love your enemies.” I hated hearing that.
But just to share a couple little victories with you – I am finally to the point that I was able to start college classes a week ago. That is a big step for me. And I had a drs. appointment in December for my depression. She said if I am still doing well by Feb. that I can go a year between appointments. That is huge because previously I have only been able to go 3 months between appointments.

3

I get tremendous fear just from proximity to my ma and could never recognise it until now. I thought that this confusion and not being bale to identify feelings was because of the fragmentation and the wide gap, so that any feeling simply became ‘a big feeling’ to me. i could not differentiate or tell if it was bad or good, happy or serious… All my feelings were greyed so I would NOT have to feel the extent of the pain, or the extent of the rage. I notice myself saying things that may be disparaging without even realising it because I learned that – it’s like a subtle ego battle, or one upmanship and now I’m in touch with my feelings and want to assert myself – in some ways I find myself fighting for my space and to be heard and to say my ‘piece’. Then I hear what I’m saying and perhaps it’s not encouraging others, and yet it’s a direct reaction because those same people in the past have judged me and I have felt devalued by them and I anticipate this treatment and it’s like ‘attack is the first form of defense’. I noticed this too late to be more gentle but also my beliefs have been downtrodden so many times, one of our friends noticed me saying something assertive and clearly and she said ‘Go Louise – you’re absolutely right’ like a validation! And another time the person I was most scared of saying something to said something I felt was completely unfounded, and I knew I KNEW better because I had researched the subject extensively and I said exactly that and then I felt BAD about it after. But actually I realised they had done the same thing all the time as long as I knew them and I never questioned it and THEY never felt guilty for being harsh just because they expressed themselves.
I also realised after kicking myself for expressing some anger (not at someone) and feeling bad that actually my ma who ALWAYS expressed it the same way evidently had the same skill level didn’t she – or lack thereof. At least I noticed this – and she never felt BAD like I did or noticed it or tried to heal.
I’m starting to value what I know and have learned. Thank YOU!

4

also it was also very fitting for today, because today I am going to be facing one of the people who abused me. I am terrified out of my wits. And am not sure how to handle it. Can I have some advice on a couple things? My father (the abuser) will reach out for a hug. What do I do? I am repulsed by his touch and also do not feel a bit safe with him touching me – even for a hug. Some of it may be strictly selfish, I don’t want him to touch me in an “affectionate” way because I don’t feel he loves me. And if he doesn’t love me don’t even pretend to. I struggle a lot with him, but I am also discovering that I am totally repulsed by him. Did he do something that is escaping my memory? I just don’t have a good feeling about this meeting.

5

For many years I confused “being in love” with those anxious butterflies I would get in my gut when I didn’t know how someone was going to treat me… would he be loving and accepting, or hateful and rejecting? The more desperately I had to work to “earn” someone’s love and kindness, the more I thought I “loved” that person.

6

I still don’t know what “being in love” means, and I’ve been married once and had a significant relationship w/ a Partner (someone who never married me, but we did everything else besides made it legal.) Which I’m now convinced is a guy’s way of having all his cake and eating it too.
Being taken out of the home and adopted into another family has confused me about where I actually belong, even though I wanted to get adopted.
But if you can be taken away from one family and legally bound into another, how the hell are you supposed to believe love can be constant.

7

Kia,
Great sharing and progress. You are going forward! Do you have to have this meeting with him? Is it possible to arrange it a way that makes somewhat comfortable, relatively speaking? You should not hug if you feel repulsed. Don’t worry if your memory for details is not perfect your memory for impressions is enough; go with that.

8

Oh Darlene! Another awesome post!
I particularly loved this: “Love was associated with danger. Compliments were associated with a warning signal.” That is sooo true. I *still* respond to compliments either with warning signals at worst or ‘they genuinely think that.. wow… they are so deluded’ at ‘best’. And that numb feeling that I have called all manner of emotions in the past. I am learning a lot at the moment about interpreting my emotional response to something – learning to stand objectively back from it and try to understand what is really happening. Are there physical factors? Are there underlying thought patterns? Am I just running on pure emotion? etc. This post really opens a whole new can of worms – so thank you! No really, I don’t like worms but would rather them out of the cans than writhing deep inside. 🙂 Here’s to reprogramming our emotions!
Kia – all the best for that meeting! Physical barriers are wonderful things.. Don’t feel guilty about setting barriers – they don’t have to be permanent and set in stone if you do feel they need to change – but better to set too high a barrier and be able to take it down a bit than not set a big enough barrier and later regret it. Stay safe, sister! HUGS!

9

Darlene – Oh. My. God. I did not realize on any level that anxiety can and does feel like excitement to me until I read this post today. It literally never occurred to me. Thank you for articulating this! My mind is blown.

10

Hi Shanyn,
That was my home too. And my father was the most passive man around, but I
realize today that is HOW he abused. Everyone was hoping, my mother was a
wreck. I can relate to the fear of the emotional avalanche. I had that same
fear! The fear of looking at all this stuff was huge, but it was only fear,
not truth. Looking at it all set me free. It was never near as hard as I
thought it would be.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Kia
Excellent contributions to this post! Great examples of how it all goes in
different families.
Thank you also for sharing your victories!! YEAH! That is great news.
About your questions; Only you can know what is best for you. It was in
looking at all these things, my history and the truth I never realized that
I was able to understand that I had rights. There are no obligations
anymore. I do not feel guilty for the feelings that I have, the doubts or
the questions. You ask about supressed memories, and you also call your
father the abuser. I am not sure what you mean by that. Everything you have
shared today is great info for you to build on.
I hope this helps.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Louise
You describe exactly how abuse and the misuse of power manifests in a child
and carries on into adulthood. There is so much confusion about emotions
that we have no clue what they are “called” anymore. This is a big part of
the fog that I lived in for so long. And it is so hard because we have
travelled on a one way street for so long. (like we talked about in my last
post; “Controllers and Manipulative People don’t Question Themselves” which
has generated 63 comments! )
You are doing great with your insights and realizations! Thank you for
sharing so much with us!
Hugs, Darlene

11

Hi Lynda,
What you have described as “being in love” is a great example of these mistaken emotions that I am talking about in this article ~ perhaps one of the worst emotion that I had confused was “love” I had to relearn all those definitions.
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Vicki,
As I said to Lynda, this was one of the last areas in my belief system that really came together. For me that feeling of longing to belong was way more about connection with myself then it was with other people. I was so “trained” to believe that I was nothing without others; that I needed others to validate me or I was invalid. Getting that stuff sorted out in my belief system made a huge difference.
Hang in here with us!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Cyndi
I am thrilled that this hit you so hard! LOL
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Zoe,
The compliments thing was a biggie for me too. It gets so mixed up for us because of how it all went. Compliments were meant to manipulate, (and so behaviour modification type therapy feels like manipulation too and deep down I didn’t trust it) and so often compliments were motive based, which got pretty scary. This is such a BIG subject..
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

12

I never know how something’s going to come across through a keyboard. That’s one reason I like talking face to face w/ people.
I got the impression that nobody wanted me around when I was young, b/c I was a source of constant reminders-through being legally blind-that the world is imperfect. I had an Aunt who especially hated me for having a handicap, and she talked about me like I was deaf not blind. Blind people hear better than sighted people, so I heard every nasty thing she said about me.
She blamed my eye problem for the fights my mom and dad had, b/c they would start w/ my mom wanting me to get the operation that would have restored my sight to near-perfect vision if I’d had it when I was 2. I had it when I was 8 instead, so I have really bad vision today.
My dad refused to let me have the operation, and my mom tried to talk him into it. He always won, and my aunt blames my problem for most of my mom and dad’s fights.
She also thinks I’m stupid and worthless, and shouldn’t be allowed to live after causing all those problems.
And you’d think people would be shocked or outraged at her behavior, but nobody’s ever mentioned it aloud–until now.
Everyone else in my family appears to like this aunt.
So I got the message that I’m nothing with or w/out another person. I don’t know how I’m going to overcome it and believe I matter even though I was born legally blind. (I could see light and dark, and some colors; but the rest of the world was blurred w/ lines everywhere.)
I remember learning to walk, b/c I had to put my hand on the wall and feel in front of me in order to do it w/out running into something.
If I ran into something, they laughed and made fun of me. I got the impression that it was terrible and humiliating, to my family, to have a handicapped member in it.
They tried to make everything about them.
I hope that was the right thing to say. I also have a hard time knowing if I’m on the right topic, and the more emotional I feel the harder it is for me to think clearly,

13

Vicki,
I am so sorry that all that happened to you.. My goodness, this should never happen to anyone and no one deserves to be treated that way. It is very hard to get over the messages that you were given by the treatment that you have endured. Of course you matter! I also thought my value was nothing. I write about it here all the time, and the more you read my work, the more you will realize just how I got through it and changed that belief. I also no longer think that my value is dependant on what SOMEONE ELSE says about who I am. My value OR lack of it is not defined by others and it never should have been that way. Having a physical handicap has nothing to do with your VALUE as a person. You have as much value as anyone else does.
I am really glad that you are here sharing and don’t worry about “where” you put your comments or on which posts.
Hugs, Darlene

14

I hope to someday have a relationship. I accepted bad treatment when I was younger because of low self worth and no idea what a real relationship looked like. (parents divorced when I was 4) I finally recently stopped caring about what certain family members thought of me. Its really liberating and then knowing that I can spend time around the healthy family members. It took a long time to figure so many things out.
Bonnie

15

Oh Vicki~ I am having some powerful emotions right now. GRIEF for the little girl you were, because of the emotional torment your family and others put you through, and RAGE toward the hateful people who treated you so cruelly. Everyone liked your evil aunt? Well I, for one, DISlike her, very strongly.

I have a grandson who is severely handicapped. He is the most precious loving child… how anyone can laugh at a child who can’t see, for running into things, oh my Lord I don’t understand that. You deserved love, kindness, compassion, positive affirmation, and help, Vicki. I’m so very sorry you didn’t get that.

Lynda

16

Darlene, about the confusion that I had for most of my life regarding love, and the feeling of “being in love” ~ all the adrenaline rush, the high highs and the low lows, that came with the cycle of abuse, of being treated cruelly one day, plunging me to the depths of despair, then driving me to work so hard to try to fix me, to please him… then as the abuser cycled through to a show of remorse for having abused me, and now suddenly his eyes were opened and he loved me… the great huge relief, the high of feeling that finally I have won his love… only the cycle of abuse never ended, and it always escalated, until I was literally running for my sanity and in some cases, for my life~

When I finally began to get some real help, and began to break free of the cycle, when I began to be healthy enough that I would no longer accept abuse of any kind from anyone, not even one time, THEN, there was a time when I thought Love, real, respectful, kind, caring, stable love that you don’t have to climb mountains and swim oceans to ‘win,” was…. BORING! Really. Thank heavens I had a really good therapist who warned me about that in advance, so when I had those initial thoughts of “this is too tame and too boring, it can’t be LOVE without any rockets and fireworks,” I recognized those thoughts for what they were, just holdovers from long years of being conditioned to accept abuse as the “norm.” And I stuck with the “boring, predictable” love, and now… WOW. I LOVE being married to my Best Friend. I LOVE knowing that he will treat me exactly the same tomorrow as he is treating me today and as he treated me yesterday, and that is with Respect, Equality, Kindness, Caring… he is my best friend. And I am his. No more rocky boat on a stormy sea, we have smooth sailing weather every day, and now that I’m used to it, I never want to live any other way.

PEACE. That’s my primary emotion now. SERENITY. I love it!

Lynda

17

I didn’t know that was what I was describing ‘how abuse and the misuse of power manifests in a child and carries on into adulthood. There is so much confusion about emotions that we have no clue what they are “called” anymore’.
But today, my ma returned home and immediately launched at me in an angry manner – she was angry at something else but directed it at me and I REALISED this. I left the room, I said ‘Don’t get angry at me – I haven’t done anything’ and left. And came back a bit later when that had sunk in and she APOLOGISED and then she said she was tired – fair enough! And I didn’t absorb or take on any of the disparaging things/energy she said like I normally would – I don’t deserve them – I never have. I tried so hard all my life I don’t deserve disrespect or anger or negativity from anyone and I’m starting to refuse to accept it – that’s the point isn’t it to no longer let it in!

18

I have become aware that I have similar anxieties when I am around certain people. What could be fun, turns into a panicky, distraught me, turning everyone around me into a grumpy mood. Some of this is due to the fact that certain individuals strike old chords with me…told or untold…I feel as though I don’t measure up to their expectations. This plays into my old memories in my abusive family of origin.

In my family of origin, nothing I did was good enough. I was trying to be the perfect child, so as not to elicit an abusive (verbally, physically, sexually) response from one of my parents. During those rare moments when my father treated me as his “pretty one,” I would quickly have to “go away,” as the scenarios degraded into sexual abuse. A special father-daughter moment had to be paid for. No compliment came without a price.

19

Darlene, what if the anxiety symptoms remain because the danger is still there? While I can choose not to have contact with toxic friends or not join family members for family functions, I can’t seem to shake off the abusive ex. He lives very nearby, works nearby and shops locally. It is not possible for me to move. I dread even walking out of my door, although I try to not think about it or let it ruin our lives.

I just got another email from him, harassing me about the kids (he expects me give him details of how they are doing) and asking why I am not letting them do certain things when he can help. I keep telling him that I need the space (which he promised to give me) and that I will keep contact to the minimum. He thinks that he is only contacting me for important things but his sense of what is urgent is distorted. If I tell him I don’t want any contact, he generally punishes me by withholding critical information (like a bill or a fine that needs to be paid). A child of mine told him not to harass her, so now he found her handbag and won’t tell her that he has it and won’t give it to her to make a point.

I have the support of a therapist and psychologist, but mostly people tell me to do what feels right and use the knowledge that I have of the way he operates to determine what is the best course of action. The trouble is that I have so many PTSD symptoms that it is hard to have a clear head while moving forward.

20

Hi Lynda,
I wanted to point out that the marriage cycle of abuse that you just described is really similar to the cycle of abuse that so many of us grow up with as children. What I am getting at is the way that we find that cycle in our adult relationships due to the way that we come to understand love. There was so much key information for me when I realized this fact… that my adult life was a reflection of what I had come to understand in my childhood life ~ and I had to find a way to break free of those beliefs in order to break the cycle. I mistakenly thought that changing the abuser would be the answer, (loving enough, being enough etc.) but I know today it was the changes in me that stopped it. Your comment really highlights the cycle and how it escalates and grows and then peaks and transitions to the “honeymoon” stage where we think with all our hearts that we have finally won the love of our abusers. Thanks for sharing this!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Bonnie,
Thanks for being here and for sharing. So much of what we are talking about on this blog is about growing self esteem and learning healthy relationships.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Louise
Thank you for sharing this wonderful victory! Everyone deserves EQUAL respect and we don’t have to accept any less then that. That is something that I had to really understand ~ and how I came to understand it was by realizing WHY I thought I had to accept it, and why I thought it was true that I wasn’t as deserving as others. That is the whole foundation of my belief system that I always go on about. By really owning my worth, it gets so much easier NOT to let that disrespect in. This whole process all fits together in stages.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

21

Hi Cassie,
I really appreciate this comment because it really describes exactly what I am talking about. In an abusive or dysfunctional home, there are so many mixed messages. “Good” quickly turns to bad, “love” turns to fear, to panic and to pain. Eventually I couldn’t tell them apart and I realized that I was a little bit hooked on the adrenalin of all that. Healing from all of this meant that I came to really know within myself that I totally measure up and that they don’t get to decide if that is true or not. Being good enough is not something that I do! It is something that I AM. No one gets to say so.
This is really the process though Cassie. Knowing this info didn’t make me suddenly “feel good enough about myself”, it was digging into the whys and origins of how I came to feel like I wasn’t good enough that eventually set me free.
Thanks for sharing this!
Hugs, Darlene

p.s. Lynda ~ that reminds me of what you were talking about when you said that real love, respectful love was boring; for me that was because there was no big adrenalin rush with it. I was so used to the fear/anger/danger mixed in with “love” that I felt bored without it too. And for the readers who are in emotionally abusive relationships, don’t make the mistake (like I did) of thinking there is no danger or fear there. Abuse is abuse and there is adrenalin in ALL abusive relationships.

Hi Krissy
I am really sorry that you are going through all this and for the situation that you are in with your ex. It is VERY hard to deal with that kind of anxiety when the danger is still there. I am glad that you have the support of therapist and psychologist.
In my own case I kept pointing things out such as telling him when he was punishing me by withholding etc. I would say “you keep saying that you are trying to change, but now you are withholding etc… and he would say ” well I don’t see it that way” and I would say ” I don’t care how you see it”… and on it went until he actually did get it. But I realize that our situation was not exactly like yours.
Hang in here Krissy!
Hugs, Darlene

22

Darlene, thanks for sharing what worked for you. What you did is what I tried to do. The more I engaged, explained, drew up boundaries, monitored, corrected, the more I was exposing myself to psychological abuse. It just gave him more opportunities to attack, question my sanity, accuse me of abuse, create crazy-making scenarios, etc. Yet I kept persisting, all the while not realizing that my insides were being mauled. I thought it was my role to come alongside and help him change.

If I engage in that sort of exchange now, I would have to forego my policy of No or Reduced Contact which is what he would love. The lack of response from me is killing him, which is probably why he is so covertly aggressive. He just wants to pursue me and if can’t get me, he wants to punish me. And he can do it because we have kids and will probably be court-ordered to have joint legal custody.

No one needs to know if you cut off relationship with your parent, but everyone seems to know if you divorce! And you are normally forgiven for avoiding your violent parents, but society expects you to be civil and on friendly terms with the ex, or you are labelled childish and bitter. They think that the kids suffer if I don’t communicate with my ex-husband, and if you tell them that the kids don’t want to see him, then the conclusion is that I must be alienating them. My kids are screaming to be heard and so frustrated that no one wants to hear them but everyone wants to define their reality for them.

My ex is still holding on to my daughter’s handbag, and she doesn’t want to call him because of past experience. I don’t want to contact him either but she needs her wallet and her drivers license. I have sweat breaking out just thinking of sending him a one-lined email.

23

Hi Krissy,

That is the thing about abusers ~ they have a choice about their end of the relationship. I worked in marriage seminars for a few years. I saw what you are going through all the time. If an abuser doesn’t want to change, they just won’t and they will continue to blame, shame, punish and all other manner of the same old mean behaviour and indicating how unfair it is to them. Always about them, unless as I said before, sometimes they pretend to change with the motive to further manipulate. When we stand up to someone, (parent, husband, boss, or whoever) it is always with the knowledge that they might become worse etc. I really do understand how difficult this is. When I stood up to my husband, (and the other people) I was scared to death, and I really was never sure if he was going to listen OR get even more manipulative. (and it was a combination of both for a while) In your case Krissy, I was not suggesting you do what I did because I know you tried all that already. With my husband there was forward movement and had there not been, I would have left because like you, I learned that some people just don’t think that relationship is equality based. Everything you have ever shared in this blog Krissy has been really great when it comes to drawing your boundaries and I know you have done a lot of work in this area and that you are very knowledgeable when it comes to dealing with abuse. The problem is not you.

About the handbag ~ isn’t holding on to someone’s wallet and identification illegal? Is there something legal you can do about that instead of dealing with him?
Hugs, Darlene

24

sometimes Darlene, you write things I could have written myself. Mixed up emotions is the tip of the iceberg… the blindness to even being abused harmed me more in my life till now than anything else. The blindness to my own PTSD and acting out harmed me too. Mixed up indeed.

25

Three years ago when I started therapy, I proudly answered my intake therapist (i.e the therapist who took my first interview session) that I “have never had a crush and I DON’T WANT ONE”).

I can never forget her reaction – her eyes nearly popped out, she sat at the edge of her chair, and asked…”Are you serious? You don’t want one?” “No, I don’t. It’s normal, isn’t it?”

That was the first time that I had heard that it’s not normal to not want to be in a relationship. I seriously had never wanted a crush, and I was proud of the fact I am in “control”. One week later, my permanent therapist asked me, “I saw in your case notes that you don’t want a crush and never had one. Is it true?” “Isn’t it normal?” “Of course, it’s absolutely not normal to be so aversive!”

With that, the truth was smack in my face – that I had confused fear with control. The same way that I had always thought that I had control over my body.

It was during that time when I had a similar dream (or rather, nightmare) in a week – that I was molested at the age of 2. I remembered nothing about an actual incident, but I can vividly remember the dream – especially the helplessness that I had felt when all that came out of a scream was silence. I remembered the intense fear.

I kept the dream to myself, convincing myself that it wasn’t true. Two years later, I finally mustered the courage to talk through it with my current therapist (I changed therapist as my clinical psychologist doesn’t do “long-term” therapy). No one knew if it really did happen. I half thought that it did, but of course it can just be symbolic. But I thought that it explains my fear of relationships perfectly. And it was also the age when things began to go wrong.

My therapist thought that it might have just meant that I was so badly abused psychologically that I felt the way I did in my dream – suffocated and silenced (I couldn’t scream partly because my mouth was covered).

I never saw all these as abuse and wrong. I was in Singapore for Christmas, and for the first time I realized where my mum got her controlling spirit from – my grandma. I felt so suffocated as my grandma would control just almost everything – what I wore, what I ate, how I talked…

Therapy has taught me to see reality for what it really is. It’s tough because it meant changing what I used to know for something that is not only unfamiliar, but also painful. I believe that the reason why we “confuse” ourselves is because our minds are so intricate and capable of protecting itself from such trauma. But in order to heal, it is always the truth that will set us free.

Perhaps, one day, I will be free to really love a man 🙂

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Hi Jasmine!
Once again your comments are like follow up posts to my blog articles!
I also had fear confused with control ~ what a great way to put it! I too believe that our minds are so powerful that we develop coping methods out of necessity and it is in realizing that we can now protect ourselves, (where as we could not as children) that we are able to let them go little by little.
Thanks so much for this comment and for sharing this piece of your story.
Hugs, Darlene

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[…] we are dealing with. Please take a moment to check out Darlene’s article as she explains  Mistaken Emotions In Dysfunctional Relationships. Please take a moment to check out some of the comments […]

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Hi Darlene,
As you already know, I subscribe to your blog and enjoy reading all your posts. I was so taken with this one that I have shared it with my readers on “A Woman’s Voice”. Take care.

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Thanks Dolores!
I appreciate your sharing! Have a great day and I hope my readers will click on your name and check out your blog too!
Hugs, Darlene

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