The Aftermath of Abuse

*Trigger Warning: this post discusses emotional abuse. If this is something you have a hard time processing please feel free to take time to do self care and/or come back to this post when you feel you can.*

I wrote The Reality Check to discuss my own issues with emotional and verbal abuse within my marriage. I didn’t, however, discuss the aftermath. It’s not pretty. I had to work on it in therapy. I had to relearn self-esteem and self-worth. I’d lost both. Jake had helped me regain my self-respect- I learned a lot about what I was willing and not willing to take from someone.

Those two things aren’t easy to learn, much less a second time. The decision to stay wasn’t an easy one. I stayed up many nights wondering if I’d screw myself, and more importantly, the kids, over, by staying. Did I? In a way, yes. Things have happened that I didn’t forsee and changes are ongoing. If I’d known these things would happen, I’d have left in 2015.

I was guarded. I didn’t trust Matthew to not hurt or leave me. I wouldn’t let him in, talk to him about anything major. Bills and kids? Sure. Anything else? Forget it. I ended up walking around with all kinds of thoughts and feelings.

The Thoughts that Echo

What if he goes back to being who he used to be? This stays with me daily. I think it always will. Matthew has made so much progress, but even my former therapist said this is a legit fear. I believe her.

If we get into an argument, is he going to blow up? Therapy helped me learn tools for this- arguing can be done in a healthy way. Taking breaks is very effective.

It’s okay to talk to him..right? I’ve got to try to trust him. This remains a daily struggle. Even with therapy, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully trust Matthew, much less any man, again. I know it’s okay to trust people, but I don’t want to ever be broken again.

I need to make it all look okay.. I didn’t know it then, but everyone around me knew what was going on. Even his dad knew. I withdrew a lot from everyone. I was severely depressed.

Am I going to mess up again? Is this going to be the day everything goes to hell? This has gotten better, thanks to a lot of self talk, progress and therapy. There are bad days but I am able to get through them a lot easier. This is also known as “walking on eggshells”, when you feel everything you do might upset your partner. This is a terrible frame of mind to live in.

The Drinking Years

I do not blame Matthew at all for my drinking. That was my own decision. The situation we were in, however, crushed me. I could have stopped drinking. I just liked it too much. It was a fun escape, but it got a lot worse after Jake died. My former therapist almost sent me for an inpatient evaluation. As of this post, I’m almost 20 months sober. Many abuse survivors do turn to some sort of substance abuse and that’s a sad fact. It helps dull the pain for sure, but it’s right there the next day.

My liver took a hit, and I’m forever grateful to my primary care physician because she might have saved my life. I’m pretty sure I would have ended up drinking my way into rehab otherwise. It may take years for my liver to return to normal. I damaged my own body because I let someone else destroy me. Let that sink in.

I drank to forget all kinds of pain- the pain of being what I thought was a horrible mom, definitely not a great wife, and the crumbling of my marriage. I kept drinking to forget the pain of losing the future I’d planned. I’m so glad I stopped.

What Happens After?

Abuse, in any shape or form, is wrong. I chose to cover emotional abuse because it’s not discussed nearly enough. What happens after needs to be looked at so much more.

The effects can last for years, even if the survivor is able to move forward and find a loving partner. The scary thoughts remain in the back of their mind. Some, like me, always have a backup plan just in case the nightmare comes true- they end up where they never thought they would be again. Some avoid relationships altogether for a long time out of fear. Some, sadly, end up in a chain of abusive relationships.

No matter how things turn out for you, please remember that the abuse is never your fault.

Pics courtesy of Unsplash and Pinterest

Resources:

Curejoy

Healthy Place

Broken Wings Part 5: What I Wish My Spouse Knew

What I Wish My Spouse Knew About Our Child With Special Needs

This series was inspired by a Facebook post I read six weeks ago. A member posted this question “Does having a special needs child affect your marriage?” Post after post, people shared examples of how their marriage was tested. Some made it, others did not. I always wanted to create a platform where people could talk and share their experiences, the good and the bad. I cannot thank my collaborator Wrae Meredith Sanders enough for her open and honest contributions. Whatever your decision is, I hope you know you’re not alone and you will make it.

This is the last part of this series. Please feel free to like, comment, and share.

FDFFD23F1B8442F28C0BD85383C02B7E.jpg

There are many things that I can look back on now and wish that I could change. I’m unable to change the damage that was done to our marriage- both of us did things that we regret but we have been able to move forward together.

If I’d known that we would disagree so much and loudly, I would have shut the door a little more. I would have stopped and asked for a break–this would have helped more than we realized at the time. I would have asked why we had to be right all the time instead of coming up with a compromise.

Julian Needed Us to Come Together, Not Fall Apart

6AA95E128A6C4463B1BD0285B161C380.jpg

If I’d known then that I’d spend many nights crying myself to sleep for so many reasons, I would hit the rewind button. I would figure out each separate reason instead of letting it all become a big ball of depression.

I thought I was doing the right thing–fighting you for Julian’s needs. This turned out to be two evaluations, a diagnosis of ADHD (combined), traits of Asperger’s (later amended to High Functioning Autism) and medications. He also needed group therapy.

Moms are supposed to do what it takes for their kids, right? The only thing is, I did it alone. I didn’t listen to you. You didn’t want any of these things to happen because you were in denial. If I had known what to say and not be confrontational, I would have done it. But I didn’t. That’s where I went wrong.

I tried explaining, even in a way you could understand but that didn’t do it. In your family, disabilities aren’t real unless you see it. Julian has the kind you can’t see. You couldn’t see it, so it didn’t exist. This even applied when Julian almost broke my nose and I had to get X-Rays.

26CAE4E6490C434289B919011C1A1494.jpg

I sought out ways to deal with the loneliness. When your husband is in denial and emotionally bashes you daily, you have to find a way to cope. I drank. That was not productive at all.

I went out a lot with people who turned out to not be good for me, you even tried to tell me, but I didn’t trust you enough to care. I worked out in the gym obsessively and lost 60 lbs. Even my doctor was concerned. I barely ate for days on end. This didn’t help my decision making.

What I Know Now

We worked hard to put this family back together. I still have problems opening up to you this day. I finished therapy two months ago. You were there from day one to the last and cheered me on the whole time.

During that time, Julian has grown, and he has done well. He finished group therapy and dealt well with a change in providers. He is going into the seventh grade after a few bumps adjusting to middle school.

You’ve become so supportive of Julian and I. When he has a bad day, I know I can tell you about it. You’re happy when he does well. Raising kids isn’t easy and we have three. Having a kid with special needs makes things a bit more interesting and sometimes difficult. I’m glad that both of us decided to make this work.

Thanks. I know Julian wouldn’t say it but I’m sure he likes his mom and dad being together.

Love always…

Wrae

What I Wish My Husband Knew About Being A Special Needs Mom

BF4D4028EFE94F75A7AF7612ABE610EE.jpg

Dear Husband,

Never at the age of forty did I dream I would marry, then become pregnant a few months later. It took us both by surprise yet we agreed to go on this wild journey called parenting. I had a little more experience with raising a child as my daughter was fourteen when we tied the knot.

I was fat, tired, and cranky–everything a pregnant woman is and probably will be as long as little humans continue to beautifully invade our personal space. There were precautions because of my age and health, but I was sure I would go full term.

But I didn’t. He came nearly three months early. After a long stay at the hospitals, oxygen tanks, and therapy, our baby boy could live a normal life.

There’s Something About Keith

We both noticed how energetic he was, how once he started talking he couldn’t stop, and how sleep evaded him. No worries though, I sleep trained him. Plus, kids are naturally talkative and hyper, right?

But he never slowed down. After being kicked out of two daycares, we had him evaluated. I already knew, but I wanted to hear the doctor say it. He had ADHD.

Now here’s where the story starts to fall apart

I ran straight towards the ADHD armed with books, natural medicine because our pediatrician refused to help him, and age-appropriate behavioral techniques. You ran in the other direction, straight to the door of denial.

840E8B04E6464F09A333136C60BC1958.jpg

Days grew into weeks, months, and even years. Six years isn’t much time to some, but when a person feels like they’re carrying the load alone, it can seem like a millennium.

The feeling is familiar because I went through the same thing raising my daughter alone. I felt overwhelmed all the time. I feel that way now.

As the primary caregiver, I stay on top of his meds, homeschool him, and take him to the doctor’s appointments.

I know you can argue that since I don’t have a nine to five, I should be doing this anyway. I remember carrying the same load as a full-time working mom too.

And when you did participate…

Yes, you went to the doctor with us sometimes. You ‘yessed’ your way through the appointments, but the heavy part of the load rests on my shoulders.

When he’s having a bad day, I try to redirect. You punish him by sending him to bed.

If he talks back, I remind him that his behavior is inappropriate, you yell at him and say things he will repeat later when he’s frustrated.

Even when you excuse yourself from spending time with him, he loves you anyway.

C75B4534D3854D7C81228E223663528C.jpg

If I thought you would really listen to what I have to say, I’d tell you that you are creating an insecure man who will be afraid to share his feelings, think he isn’t good enough and may do inappropriate things to get attention.

But I’m not brave enough. What I am is strong. I’m strong enough to walk away and do it on my own.

I don’t want to, but his well being comes first. The only reason I haven’t walked away now is that much like a little girl, I have hope.

You’re not a bad person. That’s why I haven’t left yet.

Until then, I pray we can fix these broken wings.

Love,

Bonnie

Comments? Leave them below.

Thank you so much for reading this series! We appreciate your support during this month. If you missed any of the previous parts, you can catch up here:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Looking out

5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries

Some People Just Aren’t Worth Your Time

It isn’t always apparent right when you meet people if you can fully trust them or not. Some people put on a great facade and you can’t always see them for who/what they really are. It may take time to see through the fakeness to the deeper side, which usually isn’t pretty. People tend to hide the not-so-great things about themselves because they fear that they won’t be liked. If you’re generally negative, rude and extremely bitter about life in general, most people won’t want to be around you. You will attract others like you, but that’s about it.

These people aren’t worth your time, unless you enjoy being brought down by others. This isn’t great for your mental health. How do you set boundaries and cut these people out of your life if you need to?

Relationships need boundaries

Boundaries are a building block for relationships

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are good. They help you feel a bit safer in your surroundings and relationships with others. They also give you a bit more confidence when you may need it. They do not appear overnight and do require a bit of time to develop.

  • Determine what your limits are- what you will and will not deal with. Everyone has their limits, and should not be surpassed. That is seriously unhealthy, and can become potentially dangerous.
  • Be direct. When speaking to someone about their inexcusable behavior towards you, being direct is the best way to go. They will realize at some point that you’re being serious (even if you haven’t before) and that while not being rude, you are setting some sort of boundary. Remind them of past events if needed. It may help them realize the damage that has occurred.
  • Resist arguments. One of the main goal of setting boundaries is to have a conversation, not an argument. It may get hard, but this can be done without fighting. Sometimes this requires a break and coming back to the discussion- this is okay. Just make sure you come back to it.
  • Take some space. Sometimes people need space after discussing things, either before things go bad and arguments occur, or afterwards to reflect and maybe think things out. Either is good.
  • Saying NO is good. Some people have a serious issue with saying “no” to others and this can become a bigger issue than anticipated. Making others happy is a good thing, but what happens when you become unhappy because you don’t have time to make yourself happy? That isn’t being selfish, it’s a matter of your health. Many don’t realize this is also a boundary issue. Start small on this one.

Those who truly want the best for you and care about you will respect the boundaries you set and adjust to the changes. Those who don’t? They may not need to be in your life and you might want to consider cutting them out of your life.

Looking out

Using the Scissors

In 2015, I lost someone I loved, quit my job and lost a handful of friends in the space of 2 days. That’s a lot. It took a lot of therapy to deal with that. It took that death to fully open my eyes to who I was spending a lot of time with. I was going out a lot with a small group of my co-workers. I already didn’t like one, so I stayed away from her when I could. The others had their own things I didn’t like about them, but they were generally a ton of fun.

What happened when I needed them the most?

They completely flipped on me. I was told some super nasty things and I didn’t take it well. I never went back to that job (except to get my things and write a note to my manager to tell her I wasn’t coming back and why. The online exit survey was a blast.) and in my efforts to cut people out of my life, my Facebook block list is about 100 people strong. I blocked those “friends” and anyone that associates with them because I didn’t want anyone to tell them how I was doing while getting my life back together. My Facebook remains on very private settings. That story is also told through a filter of grief, and grief will make you do a lot of things.

How do you say goodbye to people that aren’t good for you? In my case, I literally cut people off without a second thought. It was the best option at the time and as of yet, one person has tried to approach me on a different social media site. She was immediately blocked. I don’t suggest this option unless it is something extreme, like if you are in immediate danger or in a situation I was in. If you are honestly okay with cutting people off this way, then go for it. I’d love to hear your story. Send me an email, PM, or leave a comment.

Otherwise, I suggest something a bit gentler- like an email, text or a phone call. Maybe an in person meet up if you’re comfortable and you know nothing will go bad, as in someone getting aggressive. I’m all for people settling things peacefully. In the email, text, etc. try to sound as non-judgmental, mean, as possible. Things can get lost in translation. Just explain how you feel about the situation and that you feel that there is a need for a break in the friendship/relationship either for a certain period of time or permanently. If in person, let the conversation go naturally, because both of you know why you are there. Just be ready for an exit if things don’t go in the direction you plan for.

Hopefully you can come to peace with letting go of people that aren’t healthy for you. It will be a good thing in the long run. Your circle may be smaller but it will be stronger.

Pics courtesy of Pinterest and Unsplash

Into The Light

*Trigger Warning: suicide is mentioned in this post*

In light of two high profile suicides in one week along with the CDC report releasing new information on suicides, I couldn’t stay silent.

The CDC report can be found here. It’s eye-opening for sure. It outlines what can be done in our communities, in our states and how to help those who have lost someone to suicide.

There is a list of warning signs and infographics to illustrate the prevalence of this issue. There are even steps to take if you are around someone who is speaking of taking their life. Suicide has been and remains a top ten cause of death for years. Almost 45,000 deaths in 2016 were by suicide. That’s too many.

There are so many factors that go into the agonizing decision to complete suicide. Mental illness is one factor, but many don’t have any prior issues. I just know that decision is one that changes those left behind. Other factors include substance abuse, financial issues, lack of support, and many other life crises.

This video is by my dear friend Josh. I have no idea where I’d be without him. He discusses how to talk to someone who is suicidal. He also shares his personal and professional experiences with this topic. I met him not long after his attempt and I HAD NO IDEA he had just left outpatient treatment.

How to talk to someone that is suicidal

If you are reading this and you are struggling, please know that it’s okay. Life is hard. You’re not alone.

Otherwise, be kind. Check on those around you. Love each other. There is a way out of the darkness.

Resources:

AFSP

1-800-273-8255

Text “home” to 741741