Friday, February 20, 2009


This post on one of my favorite blogs really kicked me in the pants this morning, and gave me a sort of "aha!" moment about my depression.

I have always beat myself up over staying in my abusive marriage for as long as I did. I knew it was bad, I knew I wanted out of it, but I felt paralyzed. I know that the cycle of abuse is largely to blame for that, but it always felt like something more than that to me. Cosmo's post finally made me open my eyes to realize that my depression played a large role in the cycle of abuse for me. I was severely depressed during the last few years of my marriage. My husband's behavior toward me was incomprehensible for me, and my inability to make it stop was deeply disempowering. I felt completely out of control of my life, and the further into depression I sunk, the less able to deal with life I felt. I buried by head in the sand a lot, because I couldn't deal with what was happening to me. It was all connected - the violence and other problems in my marriage fed my depression, which led me to feeling paralyzed and unable to escape, which allowed for more violence which deepened my depression even further, and made me more unable to act. Looking at it that way, it is surprising to me that I was ever able to end it at all.

I honestly don't know how you could go through violence and other severe relationship issues like I did, and not be depressed. But as I was going through it all, I never saw it. Until very recently, I have never acknowledged my battles with depression, starting from when I was a teenager, as battles with depression. I didn't want to accept that was a problem I had. Sometimes life is hard, and my feelings seemed reasonable to me when that was the case. But the fact that my feelings often went beyond reasonable, or lasted much longer than they should, or kept me from acting when I should have, that was something I was not ready to acknowledge. Even now, it is very hard for me to say.

But if I look at my behavior, my feelings, I know it is true. I obsess, I ruminate, I catastrophise (sp?). I rarely feel at ease, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin, I am self-conscious to the point of ridiculousness. I let my feelings of sadness and fear and hopelessness paralyze me from action. I take care of my family and do all those other things I have to do, but I don't take care of myself like I should. I know I should get up early and go to yoga. I know I should eat well, and get enough sleep. I know I should reach out to friends and family for help, or at least some kind words. But I don't. I don't feel like I can. And I just cross my fingers and hope that this bout with depression will lift of its own will, without any help from me.

My ongoing battles with PTSD do not help matters any, because it is basically a disorder of obsessive thoughts and rumination. Your mind and body cannot let go of the traumatic memories, and the fight-or-flight state caused by the trauma. Even when you do not consciously think about the trauma, it intrudes into your thoughts and behaviors, through dreams or other subconscious means if there is no other way in. I have been out of the abuse for almost 4 years now, and yet I still feel the fear and pain so strongly sometimes. I still think about it and it still affects my life, way more than I like to admit.

Accepting that these things are going on with me, I know that I need help. I cannot do this on my own. I feel very disconnected and lonely lately, alone in the depths of my despair. I am not sure where to reach out, but I can see that I need to, one way or another. For now, this is the best way I have.

In San Diego every spring, we have "May Gray" and "June Gloom". In the mornings, it is overcast, the skies gray and cold. Late in the morning, the sun comes out for awhile, but in the late afternoon, the clouds (and sometimes fog) start creeping back in. That is what life feels like to me. When I am depressed, I know eventually I will feel better, but there is always the awareness that the sadness will come creeping back in eventually. It makes the bad times worse, and the good times hard to enjoy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm feeling better. A little bit better. Still depressed, but not the deep, dark, want to stick my head in the oven kind of depression that I was feeling last week. Still feel low, but I feel more able to handle it. Still not able to focus worth a damn. Still totally unmotivated. I think my unmotivated is different than other people's unmotivated. I don't feel like doing anything, I don't go out of my way to do all the things I normally do, but some stuff still has to get done. So I get up and get dressed and make lunches and breakfasts and find A's lost shoe and fold a load of laundry and feed the animals and track down J's sweatshirt because it is cold and windy and raining, and no you are not going to school without a sweatshirt damnit!, before taking the kids to school at 7am, and then to work. I don't have the option to stay in bed and not function, depression or no depression.

I was planning on going back to school this semester, because it has been far too long since I stopped going, and if I'm ever going to get my degree, I've got to get back on track. But money is tight (books were going to cost about $400 for 2 classes. 2 classes that I've already taken, and was only taking again to brush up) and L is going to school, and basically, I found a bunch of excuses not to go. But I don't really feel bad about it, which is big for me. I beat myself up over not finishing school, being a total failure, all that good stuff, at pretty much every opportunity. I'm really trying hard to be nice to myself these days, because somebody's got to, so it may as well be me. So, while I would like to be in school, I'm not. I'm promising myself I'll work on some online classes I've found, but I accept that I probably won't. Following through is not my strong suit. I've decided that instead of compromising and going for a BA major I can finish quickly (whether its something that interests me or not), I'm going to commit myself for the long haul, and pursue my BS in something I actually want to pursue. What specifically, I don't know. I'm even considering math, because I'm a glutton for punishment like that. (I've actually been working on an algebra refresher course in my free time, just because I enjoy it. Yes, I am sick.)

While none of this directly has to do with DV, it does in a way. My relationship with my ex-husband made me give up on a lot of things. Including believing in myself, and my ability to complete school. I've beat myself up over this for so long. And I accepted for a long time that it just wasn't going to happen, that I wasn't capable, or that my life didn't have room for it. But I'm starting to be more OK with the fact that my dream got derailed for a lot of reasons, including the abuse, and it isn't the end of the world. Just because I had a kid (or 2) and dropped out and wasn't able to follow through, doesn't mean I can't keep working on it and finish. And I don't have to compromise on doing it the way I want to do it.

K, have to end here on a feeling good note, before I ruin it and put myself back in the doldrums (which you know in my head I'm already starting to).

Friday, January 16, 2009

And the Downward Spiral Begins...

I am depressed. I don't know if "depressed" even begins to describe it. I am sitting here at my desk at work, trying not to cry, trying desperately to focus on my work, on anything besides how damn miserable I feel right now. For the record, its not working. I can't focus, I can't get a damn thing done.

Things stink at home right now. They just do. Work's not much better. And I'm stuck in this place of not wanting to talk about it, not wanting to do anything about it. I just want to hide from it all and hope it goes away. And maybe cry a bit while I'm at it. Of course, that's just making things worse. But it's all I've got in me right now. Even if I wanted to talk about it, or had someone to talk about it to (which I don't) - what could I really say?

I am so angry at myself, so disappointed. Again, I know it could be sooo much worse. And I should be thankful for what I have. And that knowledge makes me feel even worse, because I'm not.

Its hard to have any perspective when all around you is darkness. I'm not capable of looking on the bright side right now. And since I am such an overanalyzer, and I catastrophize everything, and ruminate like nobody's business, the world looks really freaking bleak right now, and I don't have much hope that it will get any better, any time soon. Even if I knew what to do to make things better, I wouldn't have the energy or motivation to do it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sexual Healing

This entry isn't exactly graphic, but if you are not comfortable hearing about sexual abuse/rape, please skip this one.

Unfortunately my sexuality suffered a huge blow under my abusive ex, and has been very slow to heal. He was my first sexual partner, and I don't remember ever having enjoyed sex with him. It was very obvious that our sexual relationship was all for him - the only reason he ever did anything was to give himself pleasure, even if it was disguised as something for me to enjoy. As time went on, he went to more and more extreme lengths to get off. In the beginning, I was so eager to please him, and I willingly did a lot of things I didn't want to, to that end. But after awhile it was all just a sense of obligation and fear. I hated having sex with him. They way he would talk to me, how he looked at me, it just disgusted me. I was fully aware that he was sleeping around with other women (and I didn't find out until later, but other men as well). But I was supposed to be the dutiful wife, doing whatever it took to please my man, and he did everything he could to push me to do that. There were things, especially toward the end of the marriage, that he tried to push me into doing, and attempted to physically force upon me, most of which I was able to get out of. As the marriage came to an end, things got infinitely worse. I finally started to stand up for myself and say no to him. I'm sure you can guess how well that went over. Every time we had sex after that point was an act of rape, in one way or another. The first few times he acted sorry, but obviously wasn't. He didn't even bother with the act after that. After we had separated, the physical and sexual violence continued to worsen. Over time, I started to be able to take the physical violence to a degree. Of course it was still terrifying, but his threats of violence, and relatively minor beatings didn't phase me. He would threaten to hit me if I didn't give in to him sexually, and I would take it. I was so tired of backing down from him. He was very intuitive where the abuse was concerned, and figured out right quick that rape was a very effective tactic. It took 2 forms, mainly. Sometimes he would threaten extreme physical violence if I didn't give in to him. I knew he was capable of it under the right circumstances, and sometimes I would give in. Other times, he didn't bother with that, and would just physically force me. One of his favorite ways to do this was to come into the house while I was sleeping, and I would wake up to find him on me. I slept in the same room as my kids, so he knew I wouldn't make a big scene over it, for fear of them waking up and seeing what was happening.
To anyone who has not experienced domestic violence, I'm sure all of this seems absurd. Why would I allow this to happen to me, why didn't I do something about it? I did try. Police were less than receptive. Even after I had a restraining order, when I would call , they would usually just tell him to leave. After my current SO and I were dating, my ex raped me for the last time. My SO called the police for me. They talked to my ex first, and allowed him into my house while they were talking to me. The police officers told me that my story wasn't believable (why would a husband need to rape his wife, after all) , and that what they thought had happened was the sex was consensual, and I told my boyfriend it was rape so that he wouldn't get angry with me. They warned me against making false police reports(!), and let him go on his merry way. They didn't even include my side of the story in the police report, or the fact that I had a protective order, so he shouldn't have been at my house in the first place. (Remind me why I don't trust the police again!)
I find myself falling into old habits with my SO, often. Through no fault of his own, I am afraid of him sexually. I hate to be touched most of the time. I don't want him to desire me. He asks me why I don't wear makeup or try to make myself look nice anymore, and I think that is why. If I am not attractive to him, maybe he'll leave me alone (for the record, its not working). He tries to be understanding, but really, how much can you expect from a guy? To him, what goes on in the bedroom is just play, its not real. But I am unable to interpret it in that way. Much of what he does I find as threatening - I don't choose how to react, my body just does it.
I've been in therapy, but this has only gotten worse as time goes on. I don't know how to heal, how to make this part of my life better. Sexuality is supposed to be one of the enjoyable aspects of human existence. Instead, it has become like torture to me. I don't have much hope that this will even completely go away. My fears and feelings over this are killing my current relationship. We both spend a lot of time being upset, because he can't understand why I react in the way I do, and I can't make this go away.

Monday, September 8, 2008

No Sense in being Rational

There are some days that those feelings of being unsafe come back with a vengeance. Usually, it is nothing in particular that brings them back, a stray thought, a glimpse of someone on the street that reminds me of him in the slightest of ways. Tonight, I don't know what it was. But here I find myself, long after my family has gone to bed for the night, searching every place I can find online for any trace of me or my kids. Because I know if he decides to find us, he will search high and low. And if I can find it with a search or two online, I know full well that he will be able to find it. I put up such a brave front most of the time. But in all honesty, I am afraid. He is in prison for 2 years more, but the day will come when he is released, and I do have to think about what we will do then.

Maybe we will get lucky, and he will disappear off the face of the earth, and never bother us again. Or maybe my life will become a living hell again. Maybe he will snatch my children off the street, or be waiting for me outside my house when I come home. All the maybes are unlikely, but even that small chance is enough to make me worry for the next 2+ years.

I think a lot about what we will do when he is released. We will be notified ahead of time, and know where he is going, who his parole officer will be, what the terms of his parole will be. But that is no guarantee of anything. He really has no reason to come back here, unless he has the intention of looking for me and the kids. In my head, I know the best thing to do will be to go about our lives as normally as possible, and at most, be a little more watchful. But I am afraid, and I want to run and hide away with my family, somewhere where he never will find us, at least for a little while.

I used to be afraid everywhere I went, before he was locked up. Those fears are already coming back to me, even though his release is 2 years away. What would I do, how would I react if I ran into him in the mall or the grocery store, or in a parking lot somewhere? What should I do? What if he shows up at the kids' school, or outside my door? I don't have an answer for that, any of it. I suppose I won't until it happens. And I'll just have to hope until then that it never does.

All the fear and the worry just allows for him to continue to screw up my life. I have not seen him in more than 3 years now, and my life is so much better than it was then. And yet, the damage he did is still here. And I don't see it going anywhere, anytime soon.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I miss you. More than I can make sense of to myself. We were not close, not anymore. But it has been over a year now that you've been gone, and I still think about you and miss you every single day. I have a lot of regrets, about the time we spent together, and the time that we didn't. I loved you, not in a romantic way, and it hurts that I can never tell you that. I did not reach out to you when I had the chance. I never told you how much I appreciated you, how proud I was of who you had become. Now, I don't know what to do with all the feelings I have bottled up inside of me. I have never believed in heaven, or an afterlife, but there is a part of me now that hopes that there is one, so that I can know that you are safe and happy somewhere beyond this world. I miss you my friend, more than I can ever say.

Friday, January 25, 2008

non-Physical Abuse

I belong to an online Domestic Violence Support Group. Another member recently asked the group to share their experiences of verbal abuse. Below is my response. I wanted to put it up here, because I think it explains a lot about what the life of an abused woman is like (or at least, what it was like for me), outside of the physical abuse. The truth is, the physical abuse is only a small part of the big picture, but that is the part that is most recognized in media, etc. I could add a lot more to what I wrote, about how my life was for those years, but I didn't want to make it any longer than it already is.

"I am a survivor of emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse. While the physical wounds heal, the physical and sexual abuse are really just another tool they use to further the emotional abuse - the hitting isn't about the physical wounds they can cause, it is about putting them in control, breaking us down emotionally, making us afraid. And physical/sexual abuse rarely happens by itself, and is normally not the first kind of abuse the abuser will use. If the victim is not broken down by the verbal and emotional abuse, they probably wouldn't stand for the physical and sexual abuse. When people say that they would rather have the physical abuse than the verbal/emotional, I really feel they don't understand what someone like me has gone through. The emotional effects of the physical and sexual violence have been very tough to deal with going forward - it is impossible for me to have a "normal" relationship with my current partner, because sex and being touched and things like that are a nightmare for me. It is not the physical violence itself that is at issue, it is the emotional effects of the physical/sexual violence that are long-lasting, in much the same way as those of the emotional/verbal abuse. I am not meaning to come down on anyone for the things they have said, or in any way minimize the horrible damage done by emotional and verbal abuse - I understand the toll this kind of abuse takes, I was a victim of it as well. I just feel that it is important for others here to understand what I and other women like me have been through, and that different kinds of abuse do not exist in a vacuum, they are interconnected. When a woman says to me that her husband isn't that bad, because he is only verbally/emotionally abusive and controlling, women need to understand that it is not the case that physical abusers are a totally different kind of animal - they are just at a different point on the continuum and could move to the level of physical violence under the right circumstances (and yes, all of us have said that he would never do that, if we believed he would, we would never have gotten involved with him)

As far as emotional/verbal abuse goes:
I was terrorized by my ex, constantly kept on my toes - he was so unpredictable. Nothing I ever did was right. Everything bad that ever happened was my fault in one way or another. I was a whore - everything I did was for the direct purpose of cheating on him. Telemarketer calls or wrong numbers were just a sneaky way for me to talk with my many boyfriends, according to him. There were so many rules about what I was to do and not do, and they were always changing, and no matter how hard I tried to follow them, he would always find some way I slipped up, or change the rules on me again. I was stupid (he used to tell me I was the stupidest smart person he ever met - I have an IQ of 160, enough college units to get my masters degree), I was a horrible mother, I was an awful wife, I couldn't keep house, I couldn't cook, I couldn't drive right, iron his clothes correctly, and on and on. I was the reason his friends wouldn't come around, that his latest mistress broke up with him, that he was passed over again for a promotion. All my friends and family were just trying to poison me against him and control my life, it was none of their business what went on in our household. Threats were made against my friends, family, and any man I ever got involved with (after the marraige was over). Everything I did was to try to ruin his life, or make him look bad. Even after I left him, he would show up at my house or my job or my friends houses, spy on me, read my mail/email, check the caller ID on my phone. I had to account for every minute of my time - if I didn't show up at home until 5 minutes later than usual after work, I must have been out fooling around (this is 2 years after I left the jerk!). He would threaten to kill or hurt himself, and say it was my fault, that everyone would blame me. He spread rumors about me among the moms at my kids school and among our mutual friends - that he was the caring, devoted father and husband, and I was a whore running around with men while he took care of our kids. He used scripture from the Bible to try to show me what an awful person I was and that I was going to hell.

Threats of physical violence and sexual assault were constant, and much more common than actual violence. I was constantly told that he was going to kill me, run away with my kids. And when that happened, no one would bother to show up to my funeral because no one gave a damn what happened to me. Usually physical/sexual violence was used if the emotional abuse/terrorizing/manipulation didn't work. After raping me he would tell me what a dead f**k I was was, how much all his other girls enjoyed having sex with him, etc. He delighted in telling me how inadequate I was sexually, how awful my body was (I am 5'7" and weighed 110lbs or less at that time). But as awful as I was physically, that was all any man would ever want of me.

Jeez, I haven't thought about a lot of this stuff in quite awhile. It helps to remember sometimes, so I can see how far I've come since then, and remember why it has been so tough."