6 Things I Wish I Had Done Before Leaving My Abuser

Abuser. It’s still so weird to type that word out. It took me years to come to terms with what really happened. I wouldn’t say it. I struggled with thinking it. I defended him.

Abuser is the right word. It’s his identity. I never wanted the victim identity though. I wanted so badly to not be a victim that I whitewashed who he was.

Years wasted on semantics and denial. Years I could have spent saving my family. There are some things I really wish I had spent those years doing instead of trying to please someone who refused to be pleased. In no particular order, six of them are:

Kept Working

Giving up my career had a devastating effect on me. I lost my financial independence and my earning power. Becoming dependent upon him helped me become voiceless. It was a specter over me every time I kept my silence. How could I speak up if he could just send us to the streets in a snit?

Maintained Independent Relationships

When I left work, I lost contact with my peers and friends. Slowly, I found myself restricted to spending time with the friends he chose for me and select members of his family. When I attempted to nurture new friendships, he always found a way to discourage or sabotage them.

Rented a Storage Locker

THIS would have been amazing! If I had thought to acquire a safe place to stockpile essentials and protect our valuables, you can be damned sure I would have. Toilet tissue, laundry detergent, non-perishables, clothing, cash, etc. If I had a place he didn’t know about, I would have been able to protect some of what he destroyed and keep some of what he took.

Stowed Cash

This isn’t about legal advice; it’s about what I wish I would have done. Any sane lawyer will tell you not to do this. Even so, I wish I would have had access to enough money to pay a retainer or make regular payments. Or to buy groceries. Or fix the car. Or see the doctor.

Started Standing up for Myself

This is so much harder to learn when you’re leaving. Seriously. You’ve just pissed off someone who hurts you when he loves you and NOW you’re going to try to stand up for yourself? Oh yeah, he’s gonna get right on respecting you and your boundaries. Also, water is dry and unicorns are real.

Felt What Was Going On

Becoming emotionally numb is a remarkable coping mechanism. It helps you to navigate trauma and manage your survival without getting knocked off balance by pain or anger. When you spend enough time numbing yourself, you can agree with your abuser that it really wasn’t that bad. Honestly, if (s)he was that awful, you probably would have felt something. But you didn’t because you learned long ago that your feelings were wrong and had no place in your relationship.

I didn’t do any of those things. As a result, I slid deeper and deeper into his web. Like a twisted spider, he fed off of me for years. It wasn’t until I was a drained, weakened shell that I tried to escape. The fat, cruel spider fought aggressively. Even today, my very survival is an affront to his existence.

Had I managed to hold onto something – my career, my friendships, my self-worth, my feelings – things would not have gone as far as they did. And I wouldn’t still consider myself in recovery. And my children would not continue to suffer.

 

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4 thoughts on “6 Things I Wish I Had Done Before Leaving My Abuser

  1. betternotbroken

    Now add (or not I am not trying to fix you) Be kind to myself. I have gone over the same list so many times and had the same regrets but the nature of abuse would probably have made me mess up at work, and when you are in an abusive relationship EVERYTHING suffers. Hang in there, I wish you the best as you recover.

    Reply
  2. suburbanunwife Post author

    Yeah, he loved to fuck with me at work and about work. That is one thing that hasn’t changed since the divorce. He very recently pulled something at my workplace and I learned how incredibly fortunate I am to have the coworkers that I do. There are good people in the world.

    Reply
  3. Penny Lane

    You’re a strong woman. You’re essentially starting over – all because of someone else and it’s HIS fault not yours. Using the benefit of hindsight we all would do things differently, to the way we start our days to the career paths we chose. In your case, you trusted someone and he betrayed you . But you’re putting your life together. I think it’s healthy to look at how easy it could have been. The partner I left – I should have got out at the first warning signs. But the thing I hold onto in my case is that I left the country and that enabled me to grow as a person. The rest is history. You and your children will continue to survive. You’ll have a strong relationship. Your journey thus far is remarkable. Your writing is beautiful. X

    Reply

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