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My childhood was hard. I was a victim of sexual incest before the age of five, and spent most of my childhood acting out. I had been raped at least 5 times before the age of sixteen. When I had the chance to escape with a new husband and baby at seventeen I jumped on it and for the first time was in control of my own life. I spent years in denial as far as the abuse went, not believing my sister's stories and thinking she was crazy!!
My first husband was verbally and emotionally abusive, but I did not recognize it. Also it was not as bad as what I had run away from, or so I thought. Physical abuse and injury is so easy to identify, emotional is subversive and harder to identify. I thought I was just not good enough. Our marriage crumbled but I felt it had more to do with his drinking than with our behaviors.
Then I began a long series of bad relationships. The few physically abusive relationships were easily identified and quickly ended. A second marriage ended with my feeling used and abused, and made me feel like a very horrible person for hurting my husband so badly. I used him to give my son a father, and after my son's death have questioned if it had done more harm than good. I found my son hanging from his bunk bed when I arrived home from work. I will never know if it was an accident or if it was suicide.
I made myself not date or get involved for over seven years in the hopes of healing. Then I met my present boyfriend. He is smart, hard working, and when things are good he is the nicest, warmest person I have ever been with. He is a single parent and provides for his children's physical needs better than I have ever provided for my own--emotionally, that is.
I noticed at the beginning of our relationship that my boyfriend was fussy about a lot of little things. There are rules to follow in his kitchen from how to cook, to how to clean, to how to load the dishwasher. Then I started hearing the phrase "If you loved me you would.....". So I tried a little harder. Our first fight was horrible. I was told I was not allowed to be angry at him. It resulted from my telling him no. It ended with rough sex, and my feeling degraded.
Then it was great!! But I had to follow certain rules and do things I did not want to do so he would not be angry. The tension started building as Christmas approached. I felt tested daily. I kept my feelings under wraps and did not talk about them because I felt manipulated and controlled and did not want to give him ammunition to use against me. On the 23rd I threw a lighter across the room, and the games began.
He refused to accept my apology, saying it was not from my heart. I have gotten angrier, and he has gotten angrier. I moved out, but we are still hoping we can resolve our differences. We claim to love one another, but each time we talk it turns into a blame game.
He admits he has abusive behavior, but claims only I can fix him. This makes me feel it is just a trick to lull me into being a victim. I am afraid I am overreacting due to my fear. I am afraid I am being the manipulator. I would like to work this out with him in a healthy way. What can we do? I am very ready and willing to seek mental health help, but not very able as far as money. What can I do to heal myself with no money?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Jodi, and thanks for telling your story here. Your current relationship does not sound healthy, and you may not be able to create what you want together, unless both of you are willing to work very hard at healing and changing.
I suggest you read the following pages and follow all of the suggestions on each one (there will probably be some repetition of exercises):
three part journaling process
imagery processes for emotional healing
Your health and well being has to be a higher priority for you than the relationship, or none of this will work. You have to decide if you can be safe, healthy and happy with this man.
Believe in yourself--you're a survivor, who's been through a lot in your life. If you don't take care of yourself, no one can.
My very best to you,
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