2005-06-30 - 6:03 p.m.
I have been reading about abusive relationships on line which I ROUTINELY do-- having been in one!
(AND STILL having some of those aspect of abuse present)
One area that is noticibly absent in literature both in print and on line-- BECAUSE IT IS SO VERY HARD TO REALLY ADVOCATE is HOW TO REMAIN IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP AND NURTURE IT TO HEALTH.
I in fact see our marriage counselor who has used IMAGO THERAPY WORK on that agenda.
I am so grateful to have found that process which teaches that WITH LOVE EVEN ONE WITH SUCH SEVERE PROBLEMS AS BEING AN ABUSER CAN FEEL VALIDATED AND LOVED AND TRUSTED ENOUGH THAT THEY DO CHANGE. WITH EMPATY AND LOVE AND CHANGING THE RESPONSE TO THEIR DYSFUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR, THE ABUSER LEARNS THAT IT IS NOT EFFECTIVE... and THE ABUSED LEARNS TOOLS to AID IN THAT CHANGE.
That's why alot of people have a hard time with the staying in a relationship and thinking it can change... because the ABUSE PROBLEM is a problem that the person REALLY INDIVIDUALLY HAS. YET DESPITE the fact it is THEIR issue... from upbringing by abusive parents most often, THEY BRING THIS ASPECT OF SELF TO THEIR RELATIONSHIP. The IMAGO method believes that JUST AS THE ABUSER LEARNED from their environment and upbringing... they can RE-LEARN a healthy loving relationship THROUGH PRACTICE AND TIME EXPOSED TO POSITIVE MODELS.
So I am a wife in the process of a relatioship that has been undergoing that change. I am the wife of an abuser hoping to some day be able to write that I am the wife of a wonderful RECOVERED abuser who no longer is ABUSIVE AT ALL.
That in fact is REALLY what my writing is MOSTLY about! ITs the general theme of much of what I focus on because in order to ACTUALLY remain in an abusive realationship and nurture it you need to really RETRAIN yourself and your partner and you really need to FOCUS on that to such a great extent that it really does become a dominant if not THE DOMINANT part of daily life! EVERYONE KNOWS THAT AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP IS ALL CONSUMING AND THAT IS A SCARY THING... BUT I PREPORT THAT WHILE NOT ALL CONSUMING IN THE NEGATIVE WAY that when developing a HEALTHY relationshio it REALLY had to be a priority and takes MORE ATTENTION if one of the people in the relationship is NEEDIER due to being an abuser! THat is the reality! THE HEALTH OF THE RELATIONSHIP requires you work on YOURSELF and requires lots of attention to the RELATIONSHIP and lots of nuturing of your PARTNER as well!
The challenge is to achieve the level of WORK and attention to the relationship while STILL developing and maintaining your separate HEALTHY and NECESSARY sense of SELF! (WHICH ALSO ENHANCES THE RELATIONSHIP! BEING FULLY AWARE OF YOURSELF AND BRINGING YOUR OWN UNIQUE TALENTS AND INTERESTS TO YOUR LIFE IS ONLY ENHANCING TO YOURSELF AND THE RELATIONSHIP!)
BUt STAYING with the abuser while going throught the GROWTH process can't be done alone. Yet abusers often DO try to isolate the person they abuse. Growth of a relationshiop with an abuser is a process that is benefitted from EXTERNAL SUPPORTS like a good marriage/family therapist, family and friends. Yet the abuser will often be resistant to having others fully AWARE of their private life! I think the FIRST STEP to improving a relationship with an abuser HAS TO BE The breaking down of the walls HIDING THE ABUSE. IT HAS TO BE SEEKING THOSE SUPPORTS FROM A NETWORK OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS-- BUT the tricky part is that this HAS to also AT SOME LEVEL include the abuser HIM or HERSELF.
IN our case I found that members of HIS family that identify and overcame abuse in THEIR life were THE BEST SUPPORT. MUTUTAL FRIENDS WHO ACCEPT AND LOVE BOTH OF US EVEN AFTER KNOWLEDGE OF OUR ISSUES HAVE ALSO BEEN A TREMENDOUS SUPPORT. IT was a bold step to come forward and TALK to all of them and I am GLAD I did so! But the thing to know is that in that process YOU HAVE TO INCLUDE THE ABUSER.
So for me, that meant that when friends came over I JUST STARTED TELLING OUR STORY and then WESTLEY faced them along with me. AND WHEN THEY CAME BACK AS FRIENDS AND STILL ACCEPTED HIM he knew they were forgiving and loving and non jusgemental TRUE friends of OURS. FRIENDS who wouldn't become decisive. friends we talk to TOGETHER.
Family likewise have been great in accepting and being open about our problems!
FRANKLY supporting one who is being abused is a position that MANY can't or WON'T ACCEPT! THey just CAN'T take such RISK KNOWING the STATISTICS of MOST ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS NOT EVER REALLY GETTING BETTER. ANd I understand and accept that of those who just CAN't do that! IT REALLY is ALOT to ask of anyone that they have such forgiveness and faith and hope!
I however have a much more positive outlook of the viability of GROWTH and development of both individuals and relationships. Time will tell if this is naivity or an insight.....
YET I THINK based on where Westley and I were at in our relationship five years ago, and where we are now there is ample evidence that a relationship with an abuser CAN improve to the point of being healthy.
Some would take issue with that belief that an abuser ever will change and maintain our current relationship is STILL not healthy... Maybe they are right, but if so then we are really not THAT far off from being HEALTHY and I am convinced that with a continuation of our growth at some point WE WILL Get there.
The past year was one of a MAJOR SETBACK. I hope we have gotten back on track.I FEEL like we have at some levels. IN some ways however I feel we really haven't yet gotten back on track.
I am going to copy an e-mail I just sent to WESTELY. I in fact OFTEN send him such e-mails in a process of open, continued communication and effort at growth TOGETHER. It is AMAZING how much growth can occur when one is willing to look at and improve THEMSELF and acknowledge and praise and encourage the POSTIVES they see in their partner rather than condemn and criticize.
SO here's my letter to an abusive husband who has indeed recognized verbal abuse (ABOUT 5 years ago now) and STOPPED .... gradually but eventually DID IN FACT ELIMINATE the vebally abusive habit of name calling completely. He also GREATLY reduced the abuse of YELLING at me. (HE hasn't yet identified ALL THE OTHER METHODS OF VERBAL ABUSE... but that was his #1 method and I am VERY pleased he took ownership of that problem and actively WORKED to change it! HE has identified and also made improvement in SOME OTHER ways too, while there are some behaviors he HASN't identified yet)
I found letters to abused mothers from their children, letters to marriage counselors who aided and abetted abusers unknowingly... and all sort of other writing. Here's my letter to the abuser in the continued attempts at NOT ACCEPTING AND REFUSING TO IGNORE ABUSE.
I went to a web site today of the author of books I really found helpful in our relationship about 4 years ago! (PAtrica EVAN's site) In particular I personally benefitted from the insight on PASSIVE AGGRESSIVENESS as verbal abuse-- the attitude "don't Worry about it" and the habit I KNOW my family exhibits which I KNOW I USED to do of minimizing and IGNORING the concerns of others.
I LIKE to think I have VASTLY improved in that area!
Likewise over the past years you have REALLY been VERY considerate in stopping bad habits of name calling or putting down me when you are mad at me! I REALLY apprechiate that and don't know if I have expressed that enough!
In the interest of having the best relationship and family life we can-- I am interested in doing the best we can so looked at this site. I found it to be very interesting and thought I'd pass this on so if you want you too can look at it. VERY FUNNY to me is that one of the very SPECIFIC Questions was about how a person responds when their partner PARKs their car TOO CLOSE to theirs! (HA HA... in our case its the house, or blocking access!) I have to comment that when I DID THAT TO YOU, I am apprechiative that you VERY POLITELY just asked me to MOVE it and didn't seem to take it personally, or get angry about it.... and I REALLY APPRECHIATE that as I think in the past that's a perfect example of when I don't follow up on something that you DID REQUEST of me due to not being aware that DOES make you upset! Thanks for NOT yelling or putting me down! I DO make an effort to respect your opinions and when we agree about how to do something (like park the car) try to take it more seriously as a COMMITMENT to you and then follow through.