I cannot change the awful events in my life, but I can work on replacing the messages that have emanated from those events. Also, I no longer need others to understand me as I once (desperately) expected them to. If someone comprehends I’m grateful! If not, that too is now acceptable.
Having lost a sense of self early on in the marriage, I became as invisible as I could, flying under the radar as much as possible -- making myself as small as I could to escape my ex-spouse's nasty tantrums. My anxiety grew so large that if I saw an acquaintance on the street, I’d walk on pretending not to notice him or her, because I simply did not have the strength to interact. I stopped caring how I appeared, whether my hair was cut well or not, what clothes I had on... Any photographs taken of me during this period revealed the empty eggshell existence. There was no sparkle in my eyes, not even a trace of joy or spontaneity… Friends could see how I lived in sadness and depression more than I could. The reflection in their eyes told me something was wrong, but I was too numb to figure out what was going on. I couldn’t see how trapped I had become into the role of good husband/rescuer/loving father while at the same time playing submissive/appeaser/follower.
It’s not that every day spilled over with nightmarish scenes coz my daughter's mother could be as sweet and tender as she could be cruel and self-absorbed. In fact it only took one or two triggering events or meltdowns over the course of several months to remind me who was in control. It was as if two personalities resided inside one body, never knowing which one I was going to encounter – kinda like a Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde syndrome. It’s what counsellors refer to as cycles of abuse – a mix of BITTER/sweet to confuse and disorient the victim.
Those of us who suffer from a low nurturance/conflictive families of origin... are much more vulnerable to becoming hooked to this kind of controlling personality although people from loving homes can also fall. For me the highly unpredictable behaviours registered as love or what I perceived as ¨love¨ coz as a child I witnessed so much out-of-control drama. All of this amounts to a lot of ambiguity that takes years to shake.
The challenge of washing away the contamination of pain, self-condemnation, exploitation and anger has been rewarding. The underlying motive that now compels me through each day is the search for validation, restoration and connectedness -- seeking to share rich, satisfying, deeper-level thoughts and feelings with those who want to listen or who have faced a somewhat similar nameless monster.
© Reflector 2008