Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bettah Off At Last

This is a difficult post for me, but it's something I've been needing to get off my chest.

Yesterday when I was describing my harrowing experiences in the ER waiting room at Our Lady of the Damned last summer, I found myself starting to write the following sentence: "I've been in pain, terrified, alone, crying, unable to breathe..." And then I stopped, and went back, and deleted the word alone. Because technically, I wasn't alone. There was somebody waiting at the hospital with me: the man who claimed to love me, the man who claimed he wanted to marry me and spend the rest of his life with me. And yet, when I look back, my predominant memory of those long miserable nightmarish waits for medical help are of being starkly, surpassingly, heartbreakingly alone.

He was there, but at the same time he wasn't. During those waits, he was almost always completely absorbed in his own resentment, angry, furious, bursting at the seams with rage. He was ostensibly mad at "the system," but ultimately he took it out on me, and blamed me for everything that was going wrong.

During those long tense waits, while I gasped for breath and braced myself to fight what doctors then suspected was advanced and probably terminal lung cancer, he never once smiled or reached over and held my hand, or offered kind words of comfort and encouragement. He never showed any empathy or compassion for me or my fears. He just sat and fumed and glowered, grumbled and stewed. Occasionally he would snap at me in annoyance, then retreat back into cold distant silence, reading his book or wandering off in search of a vending machine. When we were finally back in the privacy of home after 12 horror-filled hours, he would explode in a cold icy fury, storming around, seething with blame, yelling at me and threatening to leave me until I was lying on the floor sobbing, with no more will to go on living.

"You're so lucky to have him," people would say. "Not many men stand by their women in times of grave life-threatening illness like he is. It's probably just the Prednisone that's making you so moody and unstable. Maybe you should see a therapist. You know, it's actually harder for the caretaker to go through a situation like this than it is for the patient."

Lord help me Jeezis, I felt like I was losing my fucking mind.

But you know what? I could have saved myself a bundle in therapy bills if only somebody had given me a copy of Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by world-renowned authority on domestic violence and abuse Lundy Bancroft. Damn, I wish I'd known about this book a year ago. Or better yet, three years ago. Or hell, thirty years ago! It sure would have saved me a lot of grief.

So wait, sure there were some bad moments, but there were also good times, plenty of them. So, I mean, abuse? Was this really an abusive relationship, you ask? That's an awfully loaded word.

It is. And you know, I had always prided myself in believing I would never stay ten minutes in an abusive relationship. Not me. I would not put up with anyone who ever laid a hand on me, or called me a bitch to my face, or anything like that. But what I learned from this book is that abuse can take many subtle insidious forms. It's not just about hitting or name-calling.

According to Bancroft:

I have chosen to use the term abusers to refer to men who use a wide range of controlling, devaluing, or intimidating behavior. In some cases I am talking about physical batterers and at other times about men who use or insult their partners but never frighten or intimidate them. Some of the men I describe in the pages ahead change moods so drastically and so often that a woman could never feel sure what they are like, much less attach a label. Your partner may be arrogant, or may play mind games, or may act selfishly over and over again, but his better aspects may make you feel that he is miles away from being an "abuser." Please don't let my language put you off. I have simply chosen the word abuser as a shorthand way of saying "men who chronically make their partners feel mistreated or devalued."


But how could I have been so blind as to not realize I was being subjected to abuse? Read on:

One of the obstacles to recognizing chronic mistreatment in relationships is that most abusive men simply don't seem like abusers. They have many good qualities, including times of kindness, warmth, and humor, especially in the early days of the relationship. An abuser's friends may think the world of him....So when a woman feels her relationship spinning out of control, it is unlikely to occur to her that her partner is an abuser.

Most abusive men put on a charming face for their communities, creating a sharp split between their public image and their private treatment of women...They are drawn to power and control and part of how they get it is by looking good in public.


So how can I know it was abuse?

The symptoms of abuse are there, and the woman usually sees them: The escalating frequency of put-downs. Early generosity turning more and more to selfishness. Verbal explosions when he is irritated or when he doesn't get his way. Her grievances constantly turned around on her, so that everything is her own fault. His growing attitude that he knows what is good for her better than she does...

At times he is aggressive and intimidating, his tone harsh, insults spewing from his mouth, ridicule dripping from him like oil from a drum. When he's in this mode, nothing she says seems to have any impact on him, except to make him even angrier. Her side of the argument counts for nothing in his eyes, and everything is her fault. He twists her words around so that she always ends up on the defensive....


But he would never call it abuse! In fact, he often denied all the cruel things he'd said and done. According to Bancroft:

The partners ask me: "After an incident, it seems like he really believes the abuse didn't happen. Is he consciously lying?" The answer in most cases is yes. Most abusers do not have severe memory problems. He denies his actions to close off discussion because he doesn't want to answer for what he did., and perhaps he even wants you to feel frustrated and crazy.

He'll speak to you with his voice trembling with anger, or he'll blame a difficulty on you, or he'll sulk for two hours, and then deny it to your face. You know what he did--and so does he--but he refuses to admit it, which can drive you crazy with frustration. Then he may call you irrational for getting so upset by his denial.

Abusive men present their own stories with tremendous denial, minimization, and distortion of the history of their behaviors.

An abuser almost never does anything that he himself considers morally unacceptable. He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside...In short, an abuser's core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong. The abuser's problem lies above all in his belief that controlling or abusing his female partner is justifiable.


Bancroft describes different types of abusers, and several of these punched me right in the solar plexus, they were so accurate:

  • Mr. Right considers himself the ultimate authority on every subject under the sun: you might call him "Mr. Always Right." He speaks with absolute certainty, brushing your opinions aside like gnats. When Mr. Right decides to take control of a conversation, he switches into his Voice of Truth, giving the definitive pronouncement on what is the correct answer or the proper outlook. Abuse counselors call this tactic defining reality.

  • The Water Torturer tends to stay calm in arguments using his own evenness as a weapon to push her over the edge. He often has a superior or contemptuous look on his face, smug and self-assured...like Mr. Right, he tends to take things she has said and twist them beyond recognition to make her appear absurd. He gets to his partner through a slow but steady stream of low-level emotional insults. She may end up yelling in frustration, leaving the room crying, or sinking into silence. The Water Torturer then says, "See, you're the abusive one, not me. You're the one who's yelling and refusing to talk things out rationally. I wasn't even raising my voice." The psychological effects of living with the Water Torturer can be severe.

  • The Player is good looking and often sexy. In the early part of the relationship he seems head over heels in love and wants to spend as much time in bed as possible ...As the relationship progresses, he may start to go for long periods giving his partner next to no attention and barely speaking to her, so she feels shelved.

  • Rambo is aggressive with everybody. He gets a thrill out of the sensation of intimidating people and strives to handle life situations by subtly or overtly creating fear. He has an exaggerated stereotypical view of what a man is supposed to be, which goes hand in hand with seeing women as delicate, inferior, and in need of protection.


Ok, so maybe he was abusive. But he kept telling me how much he loved me! Uh-huh. Bancroft has this say:

The reality is that abuse is the opposite of love. He may feel a powerful desire to receive your love and caretaking, but he only wants to give love when (and how) it's convenient for him.

When an abusive man feels the powerful stirring inside that other people call love, he is probably largely feeling:

  • The desire to have you devote your life to keeping him happy with no outside interference.
  • The desire to have sexual access.
  • The desire to impress others by having you be his partner.
  • The desire to possess and control you.


But a few days or weeks after his outbursts, he would apologize. Doesn't this prove he was truly sorry? Bancroft counters:

The good news is that remorse is often genuine; the bad news is that it rarely helps. Abusers have numerous contradictory attitudes and beliefs operating simultaneously in their minds. When a man feels sorry for his abusive behavior, his regrets collide with his entitlement.

His remorse is not primarily focused on the way his verbal assault wounded his partner. What he feels bad about mostly is: (1) He damaged his image in other people's eyes; (2) he offended his own sense of how he would like to be; and (3) he feels he should be able to control his partner without resorting to abuse... In a day or two his guilt is vanquished, driven out by his internal excuse-making skills. The effects of the incident last much longer for the abused woman, of course, and pretty soon the abuser may be snapping at her: "What, aren't you over that yet? Don't dwell on it, for crying out loud." His attitude is, "I'm over it, so why isn't she?"


Is there no hope whatsoever? Can men like this ever change? Bancroft isn't optimistic:

My fifteen years of working day in and day out with abusive men have left me certain of one thing: There are no shortcuts to change, no magical overnight transformations, no easy ways out. Change is difficult, uncomfortable work. The majority of abusive men do not make deep and lasting changes even in a high-quality abuser program. An abuser who does not relinquish his core entitlements will not remain non-abusive.


Bancroft lists a series of conditions that an abuser must meet in order to genuinely change, but I'm certainly not holding my breath. The main epiphany I got from this book was not hope that a man can mend his evil ways, but rather a huge sweeping sense of relief and freedom, from knowing that it wasn't all my fault and that I'm not crazy after all. It's such a liberating relief to finally have a name for what was going on, and a Witness who understands what I went through. I almost wondered if Bancroft had maybe gotten some kind of grant to follow me around throughout my cancer treatment, some of his examples were so eerily close to home.

Anyway, I am so much happier now that the abuser is completely out of my life. I feel lighter, freer, more relaxed, and I have so much more energy. Do you have any idea how draining and exhausting it was to be constantly contending with that nonstop stream of arrogance, criticism, control, contempt, denial, dismissiveness, defensiveness, deception, entitlement, grandiosity, hurtfulness, irritability, judgment, manipulation, narcissism, superiority, ...well, the list goes on. But I think Bancroft sums it up best with one word: devaluation. I've finally been able to shake off that deadening sense of being continually devalued.

Abuse is inexcusable under any circumstances, but may I just go on the record right now as saying that I sincerely hope there's a very special hot spot in hell for anyone who abuses, hurts, or devalues a person going through cancer treatment? Thank you.

Some relevant articles:



Lymphopo says: Shop till you drop!

35 Comments:

Blogger BunnyBubblette said...

Wow! I had no idea you were going through that kind of relationship while you were going through your cancer treatment. Yes, you sure are bettah off now, in lots of ways. I'm sure your new boyfriend (the naked one on the bed) is the total opposite of an abuser. He looks like SUCH a sweetheart!

8:38 PM  
Blogger pink peril said...

As a longtime lurker (Yay GGaV! I started weight-training thanks to your blogging.) I have always appreciated your strength and clarity. It's not easy to name abuse. It is so good of and for you that you've been able to do so. Good, too, that he's out of your life now.

"Why Does He Do That?" is an amazing book, and the most frequently lent from my personal library. Reading it changed, reframed, everything.

8:44 PM  
Blogger gennimcmahon said...

So many times women have to hear how flippin' LUCKY they are to have their man. He can be the most worthless pile of animated sawdust in the world, but there you are, so LUCKY to have him, because so many other women who were sick (read: undesirable, or, at least HE wants you--do try to put out a bit honey, even if you don't feel good, he needs a reward for being so generous as to remain at your side) would have a man.

That's the kind of luck none of us needs, and I'm delighted your life is now free of "luck" and filled with yourself (and, of course, the best boyfriend a girl could ask for ;)

10:34 PM  
Blogger UrbanCowgirl said...

"Do you have any idea how draining and exhausting it was to be constantly contending with that nonstop stream of arrogance, criticism, control, contempt, denial, dismissiveness, defensiveness, deception, entitlement, grandiosity, hurtfulness, irritability, judgment, manipulation, narcissism, superiority..."

Yes. I put up with someone who did all this plus the physical stuff, and then I left him and moved on to someone who specialised in emotional abuse (which I knew was wrong but never named as abuse until long afterwards). It still burns, 10 to 15 years later, that I put up with either of them. I feel such a fool when I think about it.

But, what I don't know is how you managed through all of that plus cancer. I cannot even fathom how hard that must have been. You deserve a medal that plays music.

Here's to you, your new boyfriend, your new home, and your new life!

12:24 AM  
Blogger debinca said...

Ya know Liz when you posted a link to your store the other day, this title in particular blared out to me. I put it on my wish list over at amazon.

I had 2 questions....at the time. 1, how will amazon know when I buy the book that I got the recommendation form you. 2, The other... why would LIZ read and reccomend this book? I almost wrote to ask why..... then dropped it.

Today you have answered that question, and finally I saw a resource I could use. I too have know for years my Dh is overly controlling of me and the kids... but an abuser? Yes, in my heart I have known it for years but have stayed so the family was intact. sadly now I am seeing signs that keeping the family intact has said to my kids that his behavior was 'tolerable'. In other wise, my kids have seen that I have put up with it, so why shouldn't they??

Welp, I am going to order the book. Prayers to you Liz, and to all of us in the same boat. thank you for putting the recommendation in words. debinca

12:47 AM  
Blogger Optimist said...

Liz - been there and done that - but I was 25 and did not have cancer! It was hard on me - I suffered some severe depression and agoraphobia until I woke up and started my work (yeah Al Anon!). Divorced him (a la Tammy Wynette) and moved home to my Momma's! That was many years and therapy sessions ago - learned how to love living by myself (with two big ol Great Danes as sweethearts. :)
The miracle is - I am re-married and no one has yelled at me in a very long time!!
Just want you to know that I totally support you and your anger and sadness. I hear it and honor you for it. You don't deserve anyone's sideways rage and you never will.
You are lucky to have YOU. You rock Sistah!

Regards - Bonnie in Houston

12:48 AM  
Blogger Grace said...

Oh, Sister. I am reeling from reading this blog. I am so saddened that you had to endure this kind of abuse at all - but especially while undergoing the treatments and the fear of cancer. In retrospect, I wish I could have known about "Why Does He Do That?" at least 45 years ago! I sure see my own marriage described here! I have ordered the book. I love you.

7:33 AM  
Blogger slfisher said...

I'm sorry. As if cancer wasn't enough. sheesh.

I read a book a few years back called The Verbally Abusive Relationship, I think it was, which said something similar.

3:11 PM  
Blogger saraarts said...

{{{{{liz}}}}}

What a shitty time to learn this particular lesson. I'm so sorry.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Keiko said...

Ack! your post reminded me of MY ex. When I left him he blurted out "Why does this keep happening to me?" then immeidately, "It's YOUR fault, I'm going to SUE you!" (!!)

I'm sure some martyrs will try to save them. They'll never be happy or well-adjusted, but they'll expect endless praise for what miniscule progress they do make. Let 'em drown in the past and be swept away, we need to keep all our attention on the good things (and good boys!) we're headed for ;-)

5:14 PM  
Blogger the Omphaloskeptic said...

Another longtime lurker here, and geez, I'm pretty sure there is no way you could be more my hero. I am so, so sorry all this shite happened to you (on TOP of everything else!) and I fully second the idea that you deserve a shiny, music-playing medal. Far from being out of your mind, you're one of the most consistently clearheaded, honest, and sharpwitted people I've encountered, on the interwebs or off. Go you for having the incredible strength to do what makes you better.

5:28 PM  
Blogger LeeAnne said...

Yet another lurker raising her hand to say "me too" (water-torturer ex-hub) and to tell you how much I appreciate the honesty of your amazing writing. You have made MY cancer journey less scary. Thank you.

During my first chemo I told my mom that I was so glad I didn't have to manage a husband or boyfriend's feelings about my cancer. THAT would have put me over the edge. As much as others might think "oh, how sad she's alone" I'm so NOT alone. My parents, family and girlfriends have been amazing support. Not to mention my dog.

Keep up the fight and thank you again for being such an inspiration to speak the truth. About everything.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Elbow said...

Wow- I too wish that I had read that book nine years ago when I was in an abusive relationship. I used to say, "How could any woman be so insecure that she would stay with a man who was abusing her?" Then, after time, I was that woman. My boyfriend tapped the phone, hacked into my email and read all my journals in the hopes of finding evidence of another man (which did not exist). It got to the point where, after bad outbursts, I would write down his direct quotes, and the date and time and tuck them into random pages of books I liked. I still find them to this day. Often when I find them, I had completely forgotten that he had said something so horrible. But there it is, in black and white. Then I look at the date and realize that after he said that, I stayed with him for another six agonizing months. I am so happy that you and I are away from these controlling men and their manipulative anger. It sucks the life right out of you, and neither one of us need or deserve that! The good news is, it's now easier for me to spot this type of individual, and since then I have not made the same mistake again. Thank you for this post... I hope there are women out there who will read it and find the strength to leave.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Citygrrrrl said...

years ago, i was at a funeral luncheon of my best friend's father. as charlette, her husband and i sat there, we endured person after person coming up to charlette saying how wonderful her father was. we would all nod our respective heads silently, and then look at each other in disbelief. after a while, it was like a joke.

charlie was anything but a wonderful man to his family, but the world at large saw someone completely different.

my own mother, in her old age, is the sweetest thing. growing up my sister and i endured a battle ax of a woman, critical, controlling, demeaning, abandoning.

when we visit my mom in her retirement home, everyone tells us what a sweet woman she is. and she is. now anyway.

and of course, i endured a marriage with the same type. a rageaholic, controlling, critical man. successive relationships i did no better. we go to what we know because it is familiar.

some day i’ll trust myself enough to get involved again, but until then i am enjoying the peace and joy of being on my own. people think i’m crazy, but this feels like sanity to me.

thanks for this post.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Been there, done that (albeit not with cancer - yeesh!). My weak spot was pity: because his childhood was tougher than mine, I let him walk all over me. My turning point was medical: I was peeing blood and in pain, and he ignored me because he had a friend over and "it would be rude to make a guest leave". So I did the emergency room thing by myself, but I know if he had been there, he would have made it be all about him. Not that it didn't take several months to extricate myself from the relationship, but that certainly opened up my eyes.

9:39 AM  
Blogger anne said...

Oh, wow, Liz. Wow. I am so terribly sorry that you had to undergo such evil treatment during an impossibly hard time in your life. I can't even believe he would dare behave that way toward you. Or, more precisely, I don't want to believe such a thing.

Thank you for this entry. I am in the midst of the very same sort of relationship; your words lend courage to helping me do something about it. Thank you, and bless you. I'm a so happy that you are free of that crap.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Dee said...

I am so glad you figured this out. It will be painful but at the same time, you will feel your sanity slowly returning. It will be like putting on glasses for the first time. Everything will become clear and things will make sense. I was so nervous about sending you the email with the narcissist links and information. I really felt like I was overstepping my boundaries. Another highly recommended book is Malignant Self Love. All the best to you!

10:26 AM  
Blogger Gosling said...

Ya know, I just realized I've been holding a grudge (big, fat one, too) against this guy since your last blog blew up. He just doesn't have what it takes, imo. And might not, ever. You gave it the best try anyone ever could have, under the absolute worst of circumstances. You needed and deserved to be cared for by a grown up who could put aside his own ego and petty beefs for a little while and make you the center of his world. That is NOT asking too much, especially when you're facing a potentially lethal illness!

I had The Awakening about my ex in an emergency waiting room myself, many years ago. His anger, narcissism and complete failure to provide any emotional support made me loathe him. It took me too long, but eventually I made the break.

You probably know better than anyone: Life's just too effing short to spend it unhappy. Onward and upward! Congratulations!

1:15 PM  
Blogger Schmutzie said...

I'm sorry for this unrelated comment, but I couldn't locate your e-mail address.

I awarded you a Thinking Blogger Award. I hope it's alright, because I'm a fan of your writing and wanted to celebrate it.

http://www.schmutzie.com/2007/06/740-spreading-thought-causers-i.html

4:36 PM  
Blogger Trasi said...

I find it interesting how I have seen these behaviors show up in a great many people that I know. I think it is hard to be completely free of all of those behaviors. Not that this excuses any of it, but more that it's so COMMON. I think it comes from how a person was treated as a child, what defense/offense mechanisms they developed. And those who don't go through the difficult process of sorting all that garbage out as an adult, ditching bad/old/abusive behaviors and soul-searching, don't ever get past it. And eventually cement those things so deeply in their psyche, it's nearly impossible to change. And if the person isn't a soul-searcher anyway, it's not likely they'll have the stamina or strength to go through all of that and face their own ugliness.
When we're in a relationship and for whatever reason want it to work out, we tend to endure a lot of crap in order not to be the one who gives up on the other. And it is often hard to see it for the abuse it is when you're in the middle of it. I don't know why this is the case, but it is.
I'm glad you're no longer enduring all that emotional baggage on your shoulders.

8:39 PM  
Blogger mo said...

a couple of years ago i was trying to save my relationship with my kids dad and i read a book... i don't remember the exact title, but it was something like 'if we love each other so much, why can't we get along?' or something like that.

what the book should have said was: if you love each other, then for the most part, you should get along. i you're completely miserable but the other person is happy then, one of you doesnt love the other as much as they profess. maybe.

what it actually said was: hey, you should become a doormat, and then maybe your partner will help you out and you won't argue so much! but if they don't help you out, at least they'll be happy that you're not nagging them, and since you're working on thinking 'positive thoughts', these things combined will make you think your relationship is great!

i wish i'd picked up this book instead. wish i'd known it existed. i lived with a water torturer - although he had bits and bobs of the others in there as well. he as never PHYSICALLY abusive, but mentally and emotionally... all the time. one of his favourite sayings was 'bro's before ho's', his long standing rationalisation of why everything came before me (and his kid). if i had a problem with our relationship (like, you have no job and you do nothing and we spend no time together) he'd tell me that our relationship had no problem, the problem was all in MY head, and clearly i was mentally unbalanced. after i finally split from him, i lived for years in fear he'd 'expose' my supposed 'instability' and use it to take my kid away.

and like you said, he had such a great public front. people love him. he manages to sound so accomplished, so together and like such a great father - when the reality is anything but. and i'm still bothered by it because i'll never TRULY get away from him - i'm still legally required to see him twice a week when we exchange our kid.

i'm glad you managed to get away from that... no one deserves it.

7:12 AM  
Blogger cookielady said...

yeah, wow, me too...my ex was Mr Popular/Secret Abuser who was (wait for it)--just like my father!

Sheesh, why do our lives read like textbooks sometimes? And why do so many men treat so many women so very badly? I mean, while you had cancer?? It's just shameful.

Am happily out of the hell...so is my mother...and I am ever-grateful to the dog who helped me through it. It's worth noting that my pup was afraid of both my dad and my ex but oh how he loved loved loved my sweet gentle second man.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Professor Zero said...

So *that* was what was going on with that guy! I'd never have known. Was dealing with extricating myself from a similar situation at that time, discovered the Verbally Abusive Relationship book, which was very helpful, hadn't discovered this one though. Good for you re everything!!!

6:01 PM  
Blogger Leesa said...

Like everyone else here, I'm saddened and very sorry that you had to go through all of that during your treatment. I am, however, very glad that you recognized his behavior for what it is, and got yourself out of that situation. That took an enormous amount of strength.

I am close to two people who are married to narcissists. They spend all of their time defending their spouses' actions, rather than recognizing their actions as verbal/emotional abuse. How would you have reacted had someone told you that they thought the Painter was a narcissist, and that he was abusive (before you figured it out for yourself)? I frequently struggle with whether I should say anything, as they both appear to be in pretty severe denial, yet if it were me, I would want someone to gently point out that things I suspected were not good were, in fact, not good and were abusive. I'm a bit chicken, though, and am afraid of the shoot the messenger effect.

Oh, geez, sorry to blab on--if you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them. And brava--you certainly did the right thing.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

When I found your new blog and saw that he wasn't in your life anymore I wondered what happened to the man you were going to marry. jeez, what an asshole.

I keep wondering if I could've handled what you did, and now I see how much more you really had to endure. You are an amazing woman.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Liz: I've linked this post to a locked-down LJ post of my own. Don't freak, it's not you I'm talking about.

Thank you for the book, I'll be getting that one read soon.

Urbancowgirl:

"...moved on to someone who specialized in emotional abuse (which I knew was wrong but never named as abuse until long afterwards). It still burns, 10 to 15 years later, that I put up with either of them. I feel such a fool when I think about it."

Huh. I wonder how common this actually is. Sounds like my story.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:07 PM  
Blogger belledame222 said...

You know, I kind of came to similar conclusions about the guy after you posted some of the stories about his behavior, i mean after you split; but yeah, i think you were really the only one who could make that call, or that it was appropriate to do so. But...yeah. I'm really glad your reading is helping you process this.

5:01 PM  
Blogger belledame222 said...

, but may I just go on the record right now as saying that I sincerely hope there's a very special hot spot in hell for anyone who abuses, hurts, or devalues a person going through cancer treatment? Thank you.

AMEN.

5:44 PM  
Blogger belledame222 said...

...just rereading that exchange. yeah, dude, he pulls this on the DAY YOU WERE DIAGNOSED? and then this:

> We do have a big problem. It seems that maybe when I
> have tried to express my needs, when I’ve asked you
> for empathy and kindness, to care about my emotions,
> to rein in the anger and yelling when you’re around
> me, somehow you heard me demanding that you be “some
> whimpering little weasel who bows down to every
> complaint” and “a spineless drooling wimp.”

The painter:

Yes, that is correct. That’s it pretty much in a nut shell.


kthankzbai.

ick.

of course, in hindsight, the not so subtext:

"I AM TERRIFIED BECAUSE I REALLY KNOW I'M A SELFISH JERK AND NOW YOU'RE GOING TO NEED ACTUAL EMPATHY FROM ME HELP O HELP QUICK LET'S BLAME IT ON YOU"

hope someone's since planted that white loafer where the sun don't shine for him.

1:09 AM  
Blogger belledame222 said...

and--that puzzle story, OMFG

It was unquestionably the second most offensive thing anyone has ever done to me. The only way it could have been even more offensive is if you’d pushed it off on to the floor. I casually picked up my puzzle and went to the bedroom to read. Later, I took my puzzle to the car and left it there. I’d spent a little over a hour making the thing, but first chance I got I threw it away. I was trembling I was so offended. Only Louie Finklestein has ever offended me worse. I can not over emphasize how incredibly rude this act was. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was easily an 11!

bwahahahaha, oh MARY. the OUTRAGE! you LAFFED at my PUZZLE OMGBBQ IMSOOFFEEEEENDEDDD...

1:17 AM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Thanks, Belledame. The thing was, I never laughed at or criticized the damn puzzle, I just failed to notice it. I was preoccupied with not feeling good, with having trouble breathing, and at that point the doctors were thinking the large mass in my chest was an advance lung cancer and I was scared half to death. I just wasn't able to be my usual attentive admiring self, and he flipped out.

I'm no psychologist, but this all sounds to me like classic textbook narcsssism issues. He would go into a Mr. Hyde tailspin whenever his narcissistic supplies were interrupted. Constantly trying to deal with it wore me plum out.

9:57 AM  
Blogger lilbug said...

Thank you....thank you so much for posting this.

I left a terribly abusive relationship nearly two years ago and this was the most succinct explanation of what was happening in my last relationship. It's been so difficult to explain to people who've never experienced it, just how damaging this kind of relationship can be.

I wish I'd known about this book back then. I was lucky, however, to have a great therapist who helped me see that my "catch" was actually eroding my self esteem and trying to isolate me from my friends and family.

Comments like "You're lucky I stay with you. No one else would want you the way you are now. At least I can see your potential. You should be grateful." were commonplace.

Gah...that makes me shudder to my very core. At the time, I believed it. I felt so incredibly broken and that he was probably right, or I wouldn't be "fucking up the relationship so badly".

Ha. Right.

When I talk with people and tell them I was in an abusive relationship they assume it was physical.

I wish it had been. That's easy to see. The emotional abuse is so sneaky....it twists your self-perception and you start doubting yourself. Especially if your abuser manages to be charming and lovely and say all the right things when others are present. No one understands why you're falling apart.

Luckily, I got out, put my life back together, and about a year later, after much soul searching, journaling and a lot of tears, I started feeling like myself again.

A little while after that, I announced to the universe that I was ready to date again, and a few days later, met the man I'm now with.

He loves me, and he treats me with respect. When I'm sad, he comforts me. When I'm happy, he celebrates with me. When I'm upset, he listens. And when we have an argument, which is extremely rare, he fights fair and we usually realize that it's just been a miscommunication which we end up laughing about within a few minutes. There's no fear in speaking to him about anything.

And that's how it's supposed to be.

I think I'm going to go give him a hug right now.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Thank YOU, lilbug. Gove him a hug for me too.

7:14 AM  
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11:24 AM  

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