Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why Women Stay

Today I woke up rolling over, worried I was late, and knotted up due to bad dreams and negative thoughts in my sleep. I dreamed about my brother, my uncle, my grandma... and my Mom.

I spoke with Paul this morning and we were calm and rational but getting on each others' nerves a bit. We talked about my mom and it's a topic that we can't talk about easily. He has been blessed, very blessed. And sometimes I think that it doesn't allow him to relate.

I told him that I was considering therapy. That when I speak to him or even a friend, I don't think that they understand. They think logically about the story I tell them. They tell me to walk away. To live my own life. But logic isn't enough. I'm an emotional person and when you couple logic with emotion... it results in illogical thoughts.

He has told me that my desire to move is running away from my problems. I told him that I didn't agree. If I'm here and I turn my back on my mother, I'd be consumed with guilt. But if circumstances caused me to have to at least turn my back a little... then I'd feel less guilt. At this point Paul compared me to an abused wife in an abusive relationship. That they just can't leave...

This made me think. I did a google search to see 'why women stay' and found this website. I began reading it and he is right (wow it's weird admitting that), a lot of what I feel is similar, but a lot is different as well.

The situational factors are hardly applicable. I'd say my biggest fear is her keeping me from my brother and sister. Which I suppose can be compared to fear of losing your children.

Where the similarities were uncanny where in the emotional factors section:
  • Insecurity about being alone, on her own; she's afraid she can't cope with home and children by herself. n/a
  • Loyalty. "He's sick; if he had a broken leg or cancer--I would stay. This is no different." yes, I'm loyal to my family. blindly loyal.
  • Pity. He's worse off than she is; she feels sorry for him. I know she is damaged emotional. I know that she is weak and I know that she is hurting.
  • Wanting to help. "If I stay I can help him get better." She is alone raising 2 children and she needs my help and I provide it to her
  • Fear that he will commit suicide if she leaves (often he's told her this).This has crossed my mind. I've even wondered if my family would be better off. I still don't know the answer to that.
  • Denial. "It's really not that bad. Other people have it worse." I deny that I am in denial - I kid, I'm sure with this one you'd have to ask someone else.
  • Love. Often, the abuser is quite loving and lovable when he is not being abusive. She has shown me love... as I've shown her. It's just always been conditional.
  • Love, especially during the "honeymoon" stage; she remembers what he used to be like. I don't know if this is applicable, but yes, I remember the times that are good.
  • Guilt. She believes--and her partner and the other significant others are quick to agree--that their problems are her fault. I don't feel guilt at all that this is my fault, I do however feel guilt that I'm disappointing my siblings. In a lot of ways I feel as if I'm their parent, the only stable thing in their lives... and that they are my responsibility.
  • Shame and humiliation in front of the community. "I don't want anyone else to know." I'm maybe ashamed that my family is so dysfunctional, but I don't think the community would know and if they did, I don't know if it would really bother me.
  • Unfounded optimism that the abuser will change.Yes, I always pray to God that it will change
  • Unfounded optimism that things will get better, despite all evidence to the contrary. Same as above
  • Learned helplessness. Trying every possible method to change something in our environment, but with no success, so that we eventually expect to fail. Feeling helpless is a logical response to constant resistance to our efforts. This can be seen with prisoners of war, people taken hostage, people living in poverty who cannot get work, etc.Yes, people always ask me if I've spoken to her and on the few occasions I have, she has lashed out at me. She has accused me of stupid things, she has shown hatred for me and she has stopped talking to me. And nothing had changed. If anything, it made it worse. Because of that, I rarely even try anymore to improve the situation by asking her to improve. Instead I do what I can to supplement where she lacks.
  • False hope. "He's starting to do things I've been asking for." (counseling, anger management, things she sees as a chance of improvement.) Yes, there have been so many small steps she'd make that would give me hope, only to have them dashed by an undeserved outburst. (similar to my father)
  • Guilt. She believes that the violence is caused through some inadequacy of her own (she is often told this); feels as though she deserves it for failing. no
  • Responsibility. She feels as though she only needs to meet some set of vague expectations in order to earn the abuser's approval. no
  • Insecurity over her potential independence and lack of emotional support. no
  • Guilt about the failure of the marriage/relationship. no
  • Demolished self-esteem. "I thought I was too (fat, stupid, ugly, whatever he's been calling her) to leave." no
  • Lack of emotional support--she feels like she's doing this on her own, and it's just too much. Yes, I know that people want to help me but I don't think they can. Because of that I feel as if I'm in this alone.
  • Simple exhaustion. She's just too tired and worn out from the abuse to leave. Yes, I am tired and depressed because of the circumstances and sometimes It's better to just put it out of my mind and roll with the punches.
Again with the Personal Beliefs section there isn't too much that is similar. I suppose there is a little though. I was raised that family came 1st and no matter what they do to abuse you, you love them. I've done that. I don't know if it's cultural or just family beliefs that trigger this but my grandparents forgave all the evils their children had down to them. Those same children are now abusing their children. I am finding it hard to forgive over and over again, but it's always my goal, because I respect my grandparents and want to do what's right by them.

So am I the victim of a abusive relationship.... possibly. I'm not a wife, I'm not a small child, but I've being used, abused, and manipulated... and yet I stay.

1 comment:

Katherine said...

Coming from a physically abusive marriage, every single one of those reasons hit a scary way. I never looked at it from your point of view, where someone can be emotionally abused by someone who is not their spouse, but the reasons still fit, don't they?

The only thing I can add here is how it effected me by staying with him all those years when I knew I should have bailed.

It made me destructive to myself. I drank like a fish. I put myself in dangerous situations because I hated my life and wanted an escape. Even if I died, it would have been better than living with him. I sought comfort in all the wrong places.

When I got out and was with a good man, I carried my damage with me. I treated him as badly as I had been treated. I threw things at him. I hit him. I took out all the anger and hate I had for my ex-husband out on this new man who was only there to help me heal.

Today, I am still very cynical about men. Even the good ones. I see a liar in everyone. I run away from arguments because I still fear that I am going to be hit. When I get angry, I feel my fist clench up into a ball, ready to lash out at anyone who comes near me.

I have nightmares. I dream that I'm curled up in the fetal position as someone is kicking me over and over again. I can't get up. I can't make them stop. All I can do is cover my head and pray for it to end.

I work through all these scars. Some days it's easier than others. The only thing I came away with having gone through it with Raf was that someone who can treat another person with so little respect and dignity, is seriously broken inside. And it's a break that YOU CANNOT FIX.

I spent years trying to fix him. Wasted time and effort. I know it's different because she is your mother and you want to love her for the good inside of her. But, she doesn't have the right to treat you like that any more than Paul would ever have the right to slap you in the face. In either case, it's unacceptable.

Sometimes, it takes someone hitting rock bottom to realize they are fucked up and need help. She is never going to hit rock bottom if you keep letting her fall on top of you.

And I know I'm in a weird place where I don't want to talk badly about your mom, but I don't want to tell you this is okay when it isn't. Not for you or your siblings or MY.

The bottom line is that you don't treat people you love this way; EVER. For ANY reason. Love should never hurt; physically or emotionally.

You're a loyal, loving, passionate, and intense person. You would give your life for you family. You deserve more than you are putting up with.

What solution is there that isn't going to suck one way or another? Be there for the one's who want you there, and let the others handle life as they will. You can't control what they do or how they react. You can only control what you do.

I hope one day she will wake up and realize how lucky she is to have kids like you who love her despite all the damage. It's a lot more than other parents have. Even if she never admits it, you know the truth and so does God. At this point, there isn't much else you can do.

Just live your own life and be as happy as you can be. Don't let the miserable cycle keep going. Your grandparents love you and would want nothing else but for you to be happy. You know this. It's not turning your back when this person is pushing you away.