|February 14, 2000
Thank you so much for your
web-site. I've been reading it for the last few days. It's taken my breath
away because I can identify completely with it. I'm
glad you know you are not alone!
I am a 52 yr. old woman who has
been married to a 53 yr. old man for nearly 30 years. We had 2 kids, one
is who 28 and the other one, who would have been 25, but whom we
tragically lost almost 7 years ago. I'm so sorry...
When the children were very small,
he was a great husband and father. However, as the girls entered
their teen-age years and I took work outside the home, he gradually became
a temperamental, controlling person. He felt out of
control as the kids became their own people and, no doubt, you empathized
with them... In his opinion, his screaming and criticism were meant
to motivate us to do better. He had absolutely no clue as to how to deal
with teen-age girls, especially the younger one. He would throw her
clothing and belongings on the front lawn to show her he was the King of
the House. Ugh. He was arrested twice for
chasing her down the street. The older one kept her distance from him. Our
home was in a constant state of turmoil. He'd stay out late after work
with his fellow co-workers sitting in taverns, then come home angry and
argumentative. The characters he hung out with had bad attitudes too.
Needless to say, I did everything possible to keep my children safe.
His abuse with me started by
calling me the "old lady", making me the butt of his jokes. I
have always been a dedicated wife and mother, but I worked part-time, went
to school part-time, spent time taking the girls
to ballet, gym, activities. I was always there for them. Perhaps he felt
guilty about not being involved, which was his decision, but he started
belittling all my interests, accomplishments, etc. Perhaps.
Also, perhaps he felt he was losing control of you too... Our
younger daughter, whom we lost, moved out right after high school
graduation. The other one finished college and moved 100 miles away.
With just the two of us, I felt a
real void, but pulled myself together after our tragic loss. Good for you! Everything I read about the abuser is
so true. He blamed me for everything that went wrong, even things that he
did. Over the last 2 years, he has been arrested several times for
creating a public disturbance. He has a problem with anger management, and
little self-control. I've seen his mood change from even keel to explosive
over very trivial things. What really hurts is how he uses things I told
him about my past, my problems, my personal thoughts, as ammunition to
hurt me. He denies, justifies, and manipulates the truth to make himself
look like the victim. His mind games are so exhausting. Sometimes I can't
say anything back to him because I can't find it in myself to be so mean.
Of course, he takes this as a sign that I know he's right. That's OK because you know better. And, you are not
There are times when I am so
emotionally-drained that I feel like an empty shell, a palette with no
color. There's little we can discuss because he has to be right. Now, he
is embroiled with court cases for his arrests. They've ordered him to
undergo psychological tests and other testing because they know he has a
problem. He's angry with me because I don't believe that he's innocent in
his arrests. I've finally put my foot down. He has never hit any of us,
but the very thought that he's never done this, and is proud of it, shows
how important this idea of control is to him. He has no sense of humor and
seems very upset when I'm enjoying a conversation with other people. He
seems little concerned about my needs, although he accuses me of the very
things he says and does. Of course, other people think he's a really great
guy. I could go on and on, but I don't want to dwell on this.
I don't want a divorce because it
would create more problems for me. However, I realize that I don't deserve
any of this, that I am a valuable, productive person, and I won't try to
minimize his behavior and actions. Good! One
thing society doesn't realize that the verbal abuser has the same intent
as the one who uses his fists. The intent is to hurt. Some yes, some no. Some want to inflict real, lasting pain
while others want to hurt you only momentarily, while they are raging. I
think of the years we laughed at Archie Bunker's verbal abuse of his
family. I never did because I thought it was downright mean and shallow. I can certainly understand why. My husband is like
that in the sense that he feels entitled to things because of his race and
I'm sorry your
marriage has turned out the way it has. But, you retain your sanity very
well - and that is no small undertaking. Thirty years of abuse and your
husband has not managed to make you doubt your reality. Good for you! You
also seem to know to pick your battles. That minimizes his antics. Seems
to me you are making the best of a bad situation. Think about joining one
of the site's support lists if you haven't
already. You'll find lots of sympathetic people who know exactly what you
are talking about.
Perhaps the legal
stuff will force him to get some help.
My thoughts are
with you. Dr. Irene