The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

People are people

When you sit back and think about it, it’s amazing that humans have any forms of relationships at all. We are all different, requiring different needs and requirements. Our desires change over time and it’s a lot to expect that another person can appreciate these changes as you would theirs. I am fully aware that I am not the same man I was ten years ago and I very much expect to be different again in another ten. I am most defiantly not the same person I was a year ago.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex
Two Way Street

Relationships come in all forms. We all have parents and we all have friends. These are relationships and they give us things like support, advice and contact. It is a two-way street. Obviously, relationships are fluid and they change over time. So why can we not accept it with romantic relationships? And here is where I want to focus – I want to consider how we get over a romantic relationship, especially if it is a long term one.

Ownership

Relationships can still ‘own’ us long after they’re over. I find it difficult to understand that the person who was the major part of your life at one stage, you find yourself crossing the road to avoid them the next. That person eventually becomes nothing more than a memory – good or bad. This will take time, but can you recall an ex from 10 or 20 years ago?

Breakdowns are now more difficult than ever. I love the convenience of mobile phones where a text can be so easy to write (who writes letters these days anyway?). Or the ability to look up old friends on Facebook. It’s all so easy and disposable. We can do these things instantly without much effort or physical input. But for some it means that their ex is just a click away.

Photographs

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

I wonder how many of you have looked your ex up on Facebook and looked at their pictures? Let’s be honest, we have all done so.  Old photographs could be thrown away but electronic media owns everything we share and there is no way of disposing these items easily.

But don’t be fooled. These people are not as happy as the picture suggests (see my blog on Humiliation). An ex can be as easily blocked as it is to contact them. I would never message my ex as I would not want her to have the feeling of accomplishment over me. She is blocked and will remain so.

However, there comes a time when we need to accept that what’s done is done and begin to look forward to what might be coming next. Following my break-up, I found a world of opportunity and self-discovery. I can now see that my break-up has had a positive outcome, but it wasn’t that way to begin with.

I am at the other end of it all and can look back on it to see it for what it was. The reality is that if it had not ended then it would have ended at some point. Although, I am prepared to accept that not everyone has this luxury. Like the complications of human nature, break-ups can equally be complex.

What is important to acknowledge at this stage is that I now realise you cannot get someone who never loved you, to start loving you now. It just won’t happen.

Emotions and feelings

I found that my emotions were identical to those I had experienced following a bereavement. I experienced; denial, anger, emptiness, and sadness and they came in quick succession. I even felt betrayed and emotionally robbed, especially as I had invested my hope of a bright future with that one person. The emotional ‘bank account’ has been raided and I had been left with nothing.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

I have had the discussion with various people from various backgrounds about break-ups. Alas, there is no definitive answer on the correct actions to take. Some suggested that people need to just ‘snap out of it’ or to ‘get online’ and find another one.  The truth is, how someone responds to the end of a relationship is different for each of us: there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

The important thing, from my point of view, is that you give yourself the time and support you need to feel better. I suggest being selfish and start falling in love with yourself again. My relationship beat me down and so I am building myself up to be better, stronger and most importantly, wiser.

Anger and self shame

I found that the hardest thing to let go of was my anger. I was furious that I had let her do those things to me but I was equally furious that I had allowed it to happen in the first place. My anger moved its focus from her to myself. I eventually recognised that I had pity for her as she was never going to change, whereas, I was changing. I felt so disappointed with myself. Wrongly, I had considered that I was intelligent and could work things out, but I failed to see the abuse until it became impossible to change. I was ultimately, disappointed with myself and this added to the shame of the breakdown.

It’s not me – it’s all you

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

I must admit, I am still playing the ‘blame game’ – I am endlessly questioning who did what, what could have been done differently and so on. But I don’t see a problem with this. I have been able to do an autopsy on a relationship that was dead long ago. I can now see what went wrong and how it died. A word of warning though, if you are not careful you can tend to go in circles and eventually draw no conclusions.

The end

I can confirm that the end of the relationship for me was eventually a liberating experience. It meant I was no longer fighting to try and obtain a dream from a nightmare. I felt I no longer had to justify her negative behaviours and abuse. There was no longer any need to feel fear on a daily basis.

For me this new-found sense of freedom eventually (not instantly I must admit) came with a rush of positive emotions. I rediscovered lost loves such as reading and writing. I even went to the ballet, of which I was never allowed to do when living under her regime. Funnily enough, I didn’t have a clue what was going on – but I really enjoyed it. But that’s not the point – I was able to do it without authorisation.

If you’ve been following my blogs you will appreciate that I have been on a journey of self-discovery. I have attempted to establish the meaning of happiness and to share it. My journey has enabled me to self-reflect on events and actions that were previously out of my control. And how they shaped me as a person of whom I didn’t want to be. I did these things for another persons’ happiness and not my own. Please allow yourself to be selfish. I want to suggest that self-appreciation is a liberating experience following an abusive relationship.

Self-Esteem And Its Legacy

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Self-Esteem And Its Legacy

We all have something in common. We either look at ourselves in the mirror when we wash or dress. Or if we can’t stand the way we look, then we can witness our own reflection in passing windows. But, we all build up a picture of ourselves based on how we are described or recognised by others. These views can become so deeply ingrained that they are shaped into facts about how the rest of the world sees us. Furthermore, it also measures our own self-worth and how we see ourselves.

Self-esteem is related to depression

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Self-Esteem And Its Legacy

Self-esteem is a close relative of depression and anxiety. Yet, all of their causes can have different origins. For this blog I want to consider and discuss how self-esteem is created and how it creates the people we are. I want to discuss how it draws us into a range of problems based on our decisions and how we value who we are.

Generally, people with low self-esteem are at risk, of not fulfilling their true potential. In an earlier blog entitled; Adults Who Bully ,I drew an important comparison with a girl I knew from school. I discussed how, due her experience of being bullied it had an impact on her adult decisions. She believed what she had been told by others during the period of bullying and concluded that they must have been right. Her self-opinion was low and therefore, her self-esteem was poor.

The relationship between low self-esteem and depression is linked by having to hide your true feelings. In; How To Hide Depression, I exposed how people with depression have learnt to develop self-protection techniques. People with low self-esteem may consider that the choices they have made have been based on poor judgement. But how can it be? Poor outcomes could be based on what you think you are worth.

My family and other animals

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Self-Esteem And Its Legacy

Everyone deserves a loving family. In my case my adopted family were pretending to be the perfect example. My adopted father had a regular and reasonably well-paid job. My adopted mother played the perfect housewife. The house was always clean and well maintained. To top it all, this church going family were also seen as charitable by taking in a child (me) through adoption. It played into their hands of respectability of which (my adopted mother mainly) played a full part.

I grew to accept poor treatment from family and partners. My childhood was plagued with inconsistencies and questionable parenting abilities. I was made to feel grateful for the smallest offerings of parenting responsibilities from people who should have known better. As you may recall I was adopted at an early age and I was made to consider that my adopted parent had done me a great favour. Therefore, I had to earn any form of love or acceptance. To further compound the issue, I was always compared to the wonderment of their natural daughter. I had been adopted because they thought they couldn’t have children – a year after the adoption my adopted mother became pregnant. By being compared to their daughter I always played second best but was set up to fail because their artificial standards were set too high for the young child that I was.

Growing up

My low self-esteem carried on into my adulthood. Only now I can consider, and perhaps realise, that it had interfered with my ability to lead a fulfilling, healthy life. I consider that I have never really reached what would have been my full potential. Although I have attended University, it was only as an adult. I was never encouraged to apply for Grammer School, or congratulated for the smallest of achievements at school. I also consider that my low self-esteem shaped my poor self-worth and set the foundations for depression.

Punishment

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Self-Esteem And Its Legacy

Physical punishment was the norm when it came to chastisement. I recall being kept off school due to the obvious bruising on my body. Yet I liked to go to school because I was safe from the harm I suffered at home. My adopted mother (who did most of the discipline) failed to recognise where she was going wrong. And so, all the excessive punishment I received was valid in her eyes. From her point of view, I was a naughty child. As a young adult, I raised this contradiction with her but yet she still failed to acknowledge her shortcomings. As a result, I gave in and walked away. I have not spoken to them since.

These exposures left me with a feeling of inferiority. It was almost like a ‘Cinderella’ effect, whereby the sister had it all and I was worth of nothing. This poor self-value created poor self-esteem as a growing adult leading into full adulthood.

Trauma.

A smack or a slap was the usual chastisement for me as a child (I cannot ever recall their daughter getting punished in any form). I was made to feel that I had deserved this action and so I needed to address the ills of my ways. In effect I was forced to be grateful that my adopted parents had acknowledged the problems before I got deeper into trouble. But it was wrong. The punishment was excessive and it was unequal within a sibling relationship. I took the slap, their daughter was put onto a pedestal.

Without doubt I became drawn to a certain kind of partner. Let me be clear here, not all of my partners had been abusive. But by being abused by a partner was, in my eyes, an acceptable form of love. If I was with someone who wasn’t abusive, I questioned their love for me because it was abnormal (in my eyes).

Bad Choices.

I carry a lot of guilt for past choices. I have a lot of guilt for getting things wrong as I grew up. As a father, I could have done a lot better. Whilst working, I could have worked those extra few hours. Having suffered with depression, I could have made it stop earlier and saved myself from years of negativity.

I now see this as I write these comments down. But to justify doing nothing, what could I have done? As a child, I would have been seen as ungrateful for the charity I had received. I could have tackled my depression years ago, but I didn’t recognise that I had it until I was much older. Wanting to tackle my low self-esteem was impossible because I knew nothing else about my personality. And so the cycle continued.

Thought Patterns.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Self-Esteem And Its Legacy

When you get used to feeling, thinking and talking about yourself in a particular way, it becomes a habit. The only example I can give is like riding a bicycle. When you learn how to ride one it becomes second habit and you do it without thinking. I am adamant that thoughts and feelings actually work in the same way. As I have so often been made to feel worthless or inferior that it became a part of me. I came to accept second best because that was all I was worth and so I came to accept abuse in a relationship because another alternative was difficult to recognise.

Self Evaluation

When I accepted that I had depression I knew that I needed to get some help and support. However, I was equally combative because I wanted to deny that I had a problem – I was being a blokey bloke. Now at the age of 45 I hold no such convictions.

I have found writing to be more than therapeutic than I would have initially gave it credit for. It has been a revelation. I have forced myself to answer the questions that I have held back for all of my life.

Following my open revelations about what has happened – especially the abusive relationship. I have been afforded some of the best help I could have ever imagined. It’s ok to accept it all. But it is even better to share my thoughts with others. It’s almost like having a big family that I never knew existed.

I do have low self-esteem, but I can deal with that as much as I acknowledge that I have depression. It won’t instantly heal itself but it can be managed – slowly, but it will.

Self-esteem test

 

 

Are Abusers Born To Abuse?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Are Abusers Born To Abuse?

Before you read any further, I must stress that I am no expert on this subject and do not hold a psychology qualification beyond ‘A’ level. The conclusions drawn in this blog are based on how I saw the problems within my own relationship and is not scientific in any way.

Food for Thought

I visited my counsellor today and we talked about a whole range of things. The main thrust of the conversation was how well I am starting to feel and how things have developed positively over the last few weeks. However, there was one thing that stuck in my mind once I had left. My counsellor raised the question as to whether abusers are born that way or not?

Nature verses Nurture

This whole question has been considerated for generations. The whole ‘nature and nurture’ debate (see Nature, Nurture Debate) has never really been concluded in my eyes. Furthermore, it is too big and wide to really discuss in this blog.

I believe that we are a product of our upbringing. But there comes a point in our lives that we have to make a conscious decision. Do we follow the path based on our experiences? Or do we attempt to break away from some of the negatives that we may have witnessed? Are we able shape our own destinies and characteristics?

Did school bullies have a common factor?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Are Abusers Born To Abuse?
School

When I think about some of the school bullies there was no common social characteristic. Some had come from good back grounds and some from broken homes. They were either male or female but there was some evidence of low self-esteem in pretty much all of them. As an adult these people usually have some kind of professional insecurities (see blog on Adults as Bullies) that they aim to deflect by focusing on other work colleagues. This is to make themselves look better than they are and so can secure their employment for longer than it is worth. What is agreed on, is that people who abuse are weak and feel powerless so they have to bolster themselves by making others feel weaker and even more powerless. Whether this is something they are born with or not, it is almost always the case.

My background – my choices

Having been brought up in a strict, old-fashioned household, I intended that I wanted to be less likely to bring my own children in the same fashion. My father was a stiff upper lipped, middle class Englishman who never showed much in the way of emotions. This was typical of his generation and certainly his own background. Whereas, my mother was a harsh physical disciplinarian. She had also been brought up in a strict regime by her own parents. I knew just how horrible it felt and how much of a negative impression it had left on me.  I decided to take a new path away from my own experiences and made conscious decisions to act in certain ways. Perhaps this was  why my self-esteem was already low as I had not really fully formed my true characteristics by the time I ventured out into the world as an adult (see blog on why good people)

She could deflect like a pro

When my ex was confronted with problems or difficult circumstances, she would become uncompromising and verbally offensive.  I think that she had become so focused on her own frustrations and inabilities that she was able to deflect them very well. After all, she had had years of practice and experience and a whole host of failed previous relationships to draw experience from. She had turned this into an art.

My ex had a very poor relationship with her father (her mother had died many years before). I can now see the pattern emerging that her first male role model shaped her view on all men (she often stated that all men were ‘Bastards’). Neither was good. I could almost feel sorry for her. But as an adult, she had made grown up choices and so she was responsible for those actions.

I find it difficult to consider that she was ‘born’ to abuse but developed the ability from her own experiences. It’s just that in her case she chose not to break away from it. She was weaker than she had considered herself to be which, as you know, is a key characteristic of abusers.

Knowing right from wrong

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Are Abusers Born To Abuse?
knowing right from wrong

I’m sure genetics do play a factor in some abusers. I also believe that some are created. If we are good people, we have a conscience and care about other people’s feelings and views. But if you consider psychopaths for example, they have no conscience, and certainly no empathy.

Abusers do know right from wrong, and this is perhaps why much of the abuse is held behind doors whereby nobody else can witness it going on. By doing this they can also maintain a public persona of which everyone adores.

Brian Masters, who has written biographies of several mass murderers including Rosemary West and Dennis Nilsen, identified that humans have the ability to commit evil acts. The purpose of society is to restrain these evil tendencies by laws and social constructions. I also feel that we have some form of  inner barometer of what we consider to be right or wrong. It’s just that our abusers have them set wrongly.

I can now see that my ex felt that her desires were more important than the people she hurt and that she was doing nothing wrong. This characteristic is dangerous and destroying not only to other people but to herself. As stated in an other blog (children in a relationship) her actions will become embedded in her daughters view of the world and so the suffering will continue. This can only evoke pity, but I refuse to be an apologist for her.

Consideration

Let’s get greater clarification here. Not all criminals, for example, produce children who commit crimes (although they are perhaps more susceptible to do so). There is a point when we learn right from wrong. But it is down to the individual to decide how far our moral boundaries are set and no one is responsible for an adults actions when they finally decide to take a certain path. Generally, I believe that abusers learn their skills and maintain them for their own profits.

 

Living With A Partner Who Does Not Love You

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Living With A Partner Who Does Not Love You

Denial

It is easy to refuse to accept the fact that the one you love does not love you anymore. We all build our relationships on a foundation of hopes, dreams and desires. Over time we have built a database of shared memories and happy moments. We also made promises that felt like realistic oaths of virtue at the time of saying them.

When their love has ended you find yourself go back and forth between trying to accept what has happened and denying that it’s true. You hope that something will change or it might be a phase. Another part of you feels the need to do something. You’re not sure what, but you know you can’t just sit there and do nothing. You may refuse to accept what is happening, or deny the events as they unfold.

We have all experienced these feelings when you have either been given the news by your partner that they do not love you or you can see that it no longer exists for yourself.

Her loss, my gain

When it dawned that she did not love me I had to take a step back. I didn’t want to try and work out her thoughts or mindset. Her actions had demonstrated what she was thinking anyway. I had now seen an ugly side to her that I didn’t want to recognise in the person that I had once invested so much emotional value in.

There was no point tying to talk her around as any short term fix would result in her floating back to her new frame of mind. I realised that it would be a fallacy to attempt to get the person who didn’t not want to be with me or respect me, to love me. It would be a fraud as the true meanings of her feelings had now been made evident. I can now say that I didn’t want someone who wasn’t clever enough to see how valuable I was. Furthermore, I was no longer willing to be her emotional football or physical vent for her anger.

I can now see…

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Living With A Partner Who Does Not Love You
I can now see

Following her final outburst, it was time to let her go completely. Her behaviour became unacceptable and I needed to regain my own dignity and respect. Especially after she had ripped it away so easily. It was time to think about everything I had known differently.

I was finally happy to accept the breakup had happened. I had been walking around blind to the obvious things around me for so long. The fact that she had stopped loving me at a very early stage became evident. Perhaps, she would say that she did love me but her version of love was not what I had come to expect. It was based on abuse and ridicule that only fed her own ego and addressed her own insecurities.

It took time for this to sink in. Only by leaving did I realise what my life had been like living in an unhappy home. Living with someone who didn’t love me had taken up so much of my energy, physically, mentally and emotionally. I was left tired and drained and it was only now I accept that I couldn’t have taken any more.

I always tried try to change the situation. Eventually, I started to accept her unreasonable behaviour and justify her abuse in the hope that she would change or accept that she was acting wrongly. I wanted to stop my feelings of sadness, betrayal and rejection. But, when I decided to let go of my feelings for her, the reality of what had been going on began to surface. I now accept that I was a victim of her viciousness but refused to identify it when we lived together.

You try and change who you are

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Living With A Partner Who Does Not Love You
Change

Unreasonably, I tried to think of ways to try and win her affections. Stupidly, to gain any morsels of love or respect from her, I developed lists in my head of what I could do. I decided that I could compromise my values to meet her unacceptability even further than what I had already. Her abuse had set the goals too high for any sane person to meet, but I just didn’t see it at the time because I loved her.

I thought I would be willing to do anything, for her to love me like how I loved her. But now I can see that the abuser will take this as a signal to continue to abuse. By giving away my own freedoms of thoughts and liberties, it played straight in to her hands and she continued to kick the emotional shit out of me. The emotional, financial and psychological abuse eventually developed into sexual, thus, physical abuse. And I allowed it to happen, because I thought that this was what was needed to win her love.

Learn to have some self respect

Forget about changing for someone else, especially if they are not willing to meet you half way. Stop bargaining for what you should have without bribes. And Never change your whole life just so someone who doesn’t appreciate you and your worth to love you. Forget it! If this person does not value you and all that you are there is only one outcome that makes sense: walk away and be yourself.

Identifying my own self worth

My relationship with my ex became a learning experience. I have learnt that there are parts of me that indeed may need some improvement. But it is me who has identified these areas of my personality, not her. I have also learnt that my self-worth far out ways what she was willing to invest into the relationship.  I am so glad that it is over.

For the first time in a very long time, I have been able to focus on me, and who I am. I can also see who I want to be. Not what she was trying to shape with her manipulation and abuse. I have learnt from this mistake and can now see a little bit more clearly.

Dead end

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Living With A Partner Who Does Not Love You

When I realised the relationship was failing and that the love was only one way it was a hit to my self-esteem. It was a realisation that stung. How could I have been so stupid to have allowed things to have gone that far? When the time came, it was the right time to go. It was also the right time to stop the damaging self-assessments that I had replayed day in and day out whilst living with her.

If they stop, then you need to stop too

Stop hurting yourself with questions about what is wrong with you. You have tried and invested commitment (and everything else) to try and breathe life into something that is actually dead anyway. If they cannot be bothered then neither should you be.