Whenever I mentioned to others how I stayed in an abusive marriage for 16 years, the classic response I'd get was why would anyone tolerate such a "relationship" for so long if it was so bad?
Letting go of an intensely harmful relationship is more complicated than it looks, because perpetrators can be as sweet and tender as they are hostile and self-absorbed. It's a lethal mix. They have a super natural ability to morph themselves in order to get what they want. They intuitively scan you up and down, knowing how to unlock the door to the heart saying all the right words you want to hear -- whatever gets the job done: sometimes sweetness, sometimes rage, sometimes coldness: never knowing which emotional state you are going to encounter.
Those of us who suffer from a low nurturance/conflictive FOO (family or origin) ... are more vulnerable to being hooked to this kind of person with highly unpredicable behaviours. The uncertainty registers as love or what we perceive as ¨love¨ from our childhood.
This is just one of many long-standing issues I’ve experienced. MDM not only suffered from bouts of jealousy, tantrums, possessiveness, lack of empathy, but also generated a force field of anxiety and tension being a Type A personality.
MDM was especially skilled in using her powers to push me off balance or engulf me. To be in her emotional vicinity, was to be exposed to endless episodes of "gas lighting" and insecurity:
- was manipulative; exploiting my good will
- acting as if she was capable of empathy
- knew how to deplete my time, energy and financial assets
- demanded constant attention
- an underlying hostility just under the surface waiting to pounce on me with her famous fiery red glare
- concocted endless long-lasting accusations against my family of origin designed to alienate them or isolate me from their influence
- possessed a sophisticated radar to detect my soft spots rapidly. This emotional instability came across as a strong dose of disapproval where I end up compensating with all kinds of appeasing responses
- started arguments and thrived on conflict: addicted to the drama
- showed no motivation to do any internal work necessary to reconstruct trust and intimacy