Sitting in traffic behind a van for a battered, homeless women’s shelter, I remember thinking to myself “Well at least I am not beaten or homeless!” My mom had been a battered wife in the days before there were shelters. At night when the fighting would start (which was every night) she would put us into the car and with nowhere to go we drove around all night.
That was many years ago and the sight of that van should have been my wake-up call, I wasn’t battered, but my husband was a verbal abuser. I was already a product of the “Divorce Revolution” and didn’t want my children to live through the experience of divorce.
When I met my ex, he seemed like such a nice guy. I never thought there would be a time we wouldn’t be friends, but I guess people change. I know there are many reasons I could think of for not being friends with my ex and I’m sure if you made a list we would probably share some of the same principles, but here are my top three.
1. First and most important to me: He broke my son’s heart when he left and after two years, my son still hasn’t recovered. It may be ok to destroy my life, but why couldn’t he wait until our son was in college?
He left at the worst possible time, when our son was in the middle of high school, when grades are so important. His grades and his health have suffered. My son now feels like he has already destroyed his future before it even had a chance to begin. He missed school again today because he was too depressed to go. I took him to breakfast to try and cheer him up and our conversation must have been so unhappy that the man behind us paid for our meal. Such kindness from a stranger, I only wish his dad had been half as kind.
2. He was and still is a control freak! During our marriage, he took charge of every aspect of our lives. Where we lived, where our kids went to school, what we had for dinner and so much more. He never let me have a voice in decisions.
If I tried to speak up he would order me to stop talking and just do what he wanted. He is still trying to micro-manage everything, that is why this divorce is taking so long. I let him destroy my life, my personality, and my health. I am still recovering due to the shock of being allowed to be myself again.
I can’t believe I let him control me like that but after 30 years you can forget who you once were. Can you believe he would even tell me how I should vote too? I never followed his instructions, but I didn’t fight with him about it like I stopped fighting about a lot of things that were important to me
3. He turned me into my mom. I may not have been a battered wife, but verbal abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, the difference is no one sees the mental bruises that are left long after the person who put them there is gone. He told me he never liked or respected my mom.
Maybe he never respected me either. He never appreciated my sacrificed career or how hard I worked. During our marriage, he never had my back. Everything that was wrong was my fault and everything that was right was all due to him. He even started making fun of me in front of our kids trying to show them that I wasn’t worth being respected. How can I be friends with someone that disrespected me?
Did he change over time or was he just misleading me? I have learned my lesson and I will never give up control of my life again! I only hope my children can be the ones to break this pattern of divorce.
After surviving 30 years of this bad relationship, I am still nice to him whenever I see him. Like my saying goes, “Keep your friends close and your frenemies closer.”
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