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Am I Somehow Deserving Of The Abuse?

by Jenny

Dear Dr. DeFoore,

I have been married for over 6 years and my relationship has become unrecognizable and full of resentment and hatred.

Over the last year, I discovered that I have been living with undiagnosed ADHD with my primary symptoms including inattention, forgetfulness, impulsiveness, easily distracted, difficulty with organization and prioritization, and difficulty with maintaining sustained effort. These led to my habits of frequently changing my mind, constant daydreaming and lack of focus on the present moment, flittering from one interest to another interest, rounds of obsession and hyperfocus on a show or story, and difficulty with forming healthy habits.

My question is, does my mental disorder make me deserving of the verbal abuse from him? He gets mad frequently when I don't put things back where they should be, cannot follow through with my commitments (such as waking up at X time, or helping out with the home renovations X number of hours, or eating health X times a week), argues back with him or gets defensive when he becomes accusatory, and behaves in a way that he believes is inconsiderate to him (because I inconvenience him and waste his time).

He tells me that I'm useless, that I'm stupid, that I'm sub-human, that it's a wonder I'm still alive. He tells me that I'm a f**king piece of s**t and many things along those lines. Even when he's not outright being nasty, he would make negative condescending comments and criticizing everything I do. He makes it so that I feel worthless and unloved most of the time. He even tells me that I'm not worthy of his respect because I can't keep my words and have no value.

When I tell him that he's being hurtful, he tells me that he does it intentionally to make me feel bad and that he doesn't care that it's verbal abuse because I deserve it for arguing back, for not admitting that I'm wrong, or for a number of reasons. Apparently, if I didn't mess up or if I immediately apologize for all perceived wrongs, then he wouldn't be verbally abusive.

Is he right? Does he have the right to say those things? I know that I am a disappointment to him and that he resents me and I disgust him with my habits. I walk on eggshells everyday and try so hard to meet his standards because every time he gets mean, it takes me hours or even a full day to pick myself up and continue where I left off.

I have started medication and I have been trying to go to therapy. I have learned so much about the illness and about my symptoms and I thought I was making progress. But instead of being supportive in anyway or being helpful with tracking my symptoms and tolerating my coping mechanisms, he keeps telling me that I'm on my own and it's my issues to deal with. If I didn't have these issues, then we wouldn't be having problems, so I need to prove that I can fix them because he's given up on me. He keeps telling me that I'd never change and never get better and he makes it hard to keep motivating myself to try every day.

We originally dated for 1.5 years before marriage and he was so sweet and caring and seemed completely agreeable with all of our future goals of owning a home in the suburbs, traveling the world, then settling down and raising a family together in a good school district.

We moved in together to his house after we got married, then bought our fixer-upper home shortly after I got my graduate degree and began working full-time. He has always been the go-getter and the do-er in our relationship while I was the planner and ideas outside the box person. He is also the logical and pragmatic one while I am the compassionate and emotional one.

We spent 2 years fixing the house together and renovating our home ourselves as a side hobby after work and on the weekends. During this time, I found myself constantly declining plans with family and friends and prioritizing working on the house with my husband. However, I noticed a trend in which he started saying mean things, making demeaning and degrading remarks, and being very critical. These originally were about the home renovations and his constant jabs were along the lines of questioning my competency, my intellect, my common sense, my ability to listen, and follow directions. He essentially called me out for being slow, being stupid, being unable to anticipate the next steps. He would also get mean about my asking questions when I didn't understand something and took it to mean that I was questioning "someone who knows better."

I think that's the first sign, in addition to the controlling behavior which was always present and the constant withholding of affection and silent treatment when he gets upset or annoyed.

Now, another two years have passed, and the only positive things in our lives now are our two young dogs. He no longer wants kids and he apparently never liked traveling or going out or spending money to begin with. All of our dreams and plans are ashes at my feet. And it's not as if I am utterly incompetent or useless. I have a successful, high-paying career, I can cook, I can clean, I can help around the house, and I am not that messy or cluttered. I am very compromising and very quick to forgive and forget and would usually go along with his preferred activity or hobby for leisure time. And I have been helping with manual labor on the home renovations for the last 4 years. So how does he perceive me to be such a terrible wife and someone who's not worthy of love, respect, or even kindness?

Where do I even go from here? Is it possible to restore our relationship to one of equal partnership where he can see me as a fellow human being?

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Oct 16, 2023
You Are Worthy Of Respect And Kindness
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hi Jenny. To answer your question directly, no, you do not deserve what he is doing to you.

He is being verbally abusive to you, and it doesn't matter what your problems or limitations are, he has no right to treat you the way he does.

He is wrong. Period. You are worthy of love, respect and kindness. There is absolutely no justification for the way he treats you.

This is not love, Jenny. You are caught up in an abusive cycle, where you continue to hope things will get better. The only hope for things to get better is if he acknowledges that he has serious problems (because he does), and chooses, on his own to get help. And if he did get help, and it sounds unlikely since he blames you for everything, it would take years of therapy for him to heal.

Abusers are very sick people. Most do not seek therapy, because they think they are right and justified. I have helped a few abusers heal in my counseling practice, but it indeed takes a long time, because of how damaged they are.

So, I recommend that you separate yourself from the abuse, however you choose to do that. You cannot heal as long as you are being abused. The abuse has to stop, and it sounds like it will not stop as long as you are with him.

I wish you all the best in your journey to seek healing for yourself.

Dr. DeFoore

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