Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When Enough Is Enough

"Abusive behavior follows patterns. Batterers behave in highly stereotyped ways - the tension, the battering, the apology, the honeymoon, the tension. Emotional abusers behave in similarly patterned ways - ruin the holiday; ruin the birthday; spoil the accomplishment; demand all the attention at the wedding/funeral/bar mitzvah. If you learn to see the patterns, you will learn to see the abuse. If you see the abuse, you see the abuser. Once you see the abuse and the abuser, you will find that you can actually predict how the abuser will behave; once their behavior becomes predictable, you feel less helpless, have more of an opportunity to control your responses, and can then become free. It can be done."

People ask me what finally made me decide that enough was enough? When did I reach my limit? Here is my answer:

One day while reading a book entitled, "Boundaries" by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend I stumbled upon a list of feelings that made me reflect about whether I would leave or stay with L or not. I would go back to this list regularly and weigh each item until I began to see the whole picture instead of small incidents:

- I feel unhappy when I am with my partner, no matter how much time we spend together.
- I want to spend most of my time alone, away from my partner, even if I’ve spent little time with her during the week.
- I can cut the tension between the two of us with a knife.
- I find relief from this tension only when I am away from my partner.
- I feel emotionally distant from my partner, and not only doesn’t this worry me, I’m also not motivated to do anything about it.
- I spend more time thinking about getting out of my relationship than staying in it.
- I don’t trust my partner, and whatever he or she says or does, doesn’t convince me otherwise. - The thought of growing old with my partner frightens and depresses me.
- I’m not interested in telling my partner what I am thinking or feeling, because it just doesn’t matter any more.
- I feel as if I’m living with a stranger. What did I ever see in her in the first place? I feel numb.
- I no longer even get annoyed with my partner’s annoying behavior.

People have also asked me why I have remained separated rather than divorcing (for several years). It came down to an erroneous interpretation of the Scriptures believing divorce equated a state of perpetual adultery (and worse) – that no adulterers would enter God’s heaven. Though you might think this is an extreme view, it’s a common teaching in the evangelical circles. Looking at this now I realize I was being influenced by Nish preachers with Nish theology who serve an Nish god, yet at the time the guilt this line of thinking provoked almost crushed me.

I've been working on a collaborative separation that seeks toward a less traumatic ending and towards an amiable co-parental cooperation. I know I maybe asking for too much. I realize L may turn on her arsenal of vindictiveness on me once I take steps to get divorced. The legal system doesn’t help. Conscientious professionals have watched in horror, as this system of adversarial combat usually leaves no survivors.

-- Troubled Reflector

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