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After a lifetime of emotional and verbal abuse from my parents, I married a man who also abused me in the same way. It was not my intention; it just happened.
When I was 23, I moved back in with my parents, even though they criticised everything I did and expected me to be perfect. Their comments included not liking how I wore my hair, my clothes, putting down my friends, the way I walked, talked, my exercise routine, my job, and who I dated. I loathed living with them and couldn’t wait to move out.
My first impression of my future husband was he was worldly. Mark knew I wanted to leave home, so he helped me move into my own apartment. He was the first guy who stood up against my parents. Mark and I loved each other, and I thought we would spend the rest of our lives together.
Things didn’t work out as I planned, and though we both had outside jobs, I had to do all the housework. Mark never lifted a finger to wash dishes, dust, vacuum, or clean the bathroom and he too criticised my cooking, appearance, housekeeping, and sexuality. I was exhausted all the time. Then I began to have severe headaches which left me barely able to function. My health suffered from stuffing my feelings.
After 5 years, I finally got a divorce. Besides working with a counsellor once a week, I joined several recovery groups.
My therapist told me I had to work on myself before I could have a healthy relationship in marriage. Then I came across the 3 A’s from Al-Anon—Awareness, Acceptance, and Action.
1. Are you really the lazy, ugly, self-centered, worthless person you are accused of being?
2. Is the negativity you are hearing a fact or a distortion of the truth?
3. Is your choice to serve others neglecting your own needs? Can you change this?
4. Do you deserve to have a better marriage partner in your life? Why not?
1. You are not in a healthy relationship. You have choices concerning what you can do about it—marriage counselling, individual counselling, or attend recovery group meetings such as codependency and domestic violence.
2. What are your goals? Some of mine are to be treated with respect, loved unconditionally, listened to, and seen as a person, not just a sex object.
3. Do you know who you are as an individual? What is your favourite colour? What foods do you like? What kinds of books, movies, and activities do you enjoy? What are your unique talents?
4. Does your opinion matter? Yes, absolutely.
1. You can treat yourself like a best friend. Would you really let someone abuse a friend the way you have let yourself be treated?
2. You can decide to surround yourself with people who are supportive and positive.
3. You can make a list of things you are good at and remind yourself of these often.
4. You can try some new activities outside your comfort zone. If you succeed, then you can feel pride. If you do not, you can still acknowledge you are brave for trying something new and try again.
5. You are responsible for your own happiness. Your partner is responsible for his.
6. You can create boundaries of what types of behaviours you will accept and not accept.
7. You can walk away or hang up the phone when you find the unacceptable words hurled at you.
8. You can cool off, think before you speak, or wait for a better time to discuss a problem.
It has been an exciting journey exploring who I am and learning to like myself, but it takes time and persistence. Today, I continue to work on focusing on my own needs and treating myself with respect.
Emotional and verbal abuse are in my past, and I intend to leave them there.
The present and future are bright because I choose to be with a man who loves and respects me just as I am. You are worth it and so am I.
Lynn is a retiree living in south Florida who wants to help those who have been emotionally and verbally abused. She also volunteers in several recovery groups for those with a loved one who is an alcoholic, drug addict or has extreme mood swings. For fun, she loves to write fictional stories which will inspire as well as entertain. Lynn enjoys gardening, swimming, reading mystery novels, and singing in a church choir.
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