Lies Abused Women Tell Themselves™

There are, apparently, two kinds of abused women; those who grow up in a climate of abuse, and those who grow up in functional families, enjoy a healthy relationship but then become vulnerable either through bereavement or another major life crisis.

Of the many, many women who have spoken or written to me over the years, offhand, I can only think of two who belong to the second category.

However different their past experiences of relationships may have been, nevertheless, in the course of their abusive relationship, the beliefs of these two groups of women become, tragically, indistinguishable.

This happens because abused women try very hard to learn from their relationships. They are desperate to learn what they are doing wrong so they can change it.

There are, essentially, two ways that they learn. The first is from what their partner says. The second is from their interpretation of his behaviour.

An abusive partner rapidly becomes the most influential person in their life.
He has the power to take them to dizzy heights of happiness (although the statistical odds of this happening decrease markedly the longer the relationship limps on).

He has the power to plunge them into the depths of despair, and usually does. When he does, his partner needs to explain what has happened to herself. She has been consistently programmed to believe that he is a precious diamond (albeit a diamond in the rough). Therefore the problems in the relationship cannot really be his. That being the case, they must be hers, mustn't they?

Theoretically, there is good news here: if the responsibility for what goes wrong with the relationship lies with her, then she has only to discover what she is doing wrong to be able to change it. Then he will shed the harshness he sometimes exhibits and forever after they will live a life of unparalleled joy and delight...

(Yeah, right.)

Last night I watched the wonderful Derren Brown illustrate how susceptible human beings are to suspicion. He created a situation that encouraged 5 people, of proven intelligence, to believe that their random, meaningless acts could produce the outcome they desired.

The best of it was that these 5 resourceful individuals become so obsessed with futile behaviours, and looking for futile meanings, that they missed the solution which he had displayed, quite prominently, hidden in full view; had they only had the mindfulness to look. They didn't.

My guess is that you have probably done that in your relationship. I know I did.

So here are some of the lies that blind abused women to the reality of their relationship that is hidden in full view.

"It's all my fault". Is your partner, perhaps, a newborn baby that he can avoid all responsibility for his own behaviour? When he screams obscenities, foams at the mouth, punches holes in the wall, or worse, does he have absolutely no control? Are you really that powerful? (If so, how come you generally feel so powerless in the situation??)

"I'm being stupid". Yes, you are, but not for the reasons you think. If you can totally discount your profound feelings of unhappiness, I have to admit that is a kind of emotional stupidity. If you are unhappy around him, the message you need to hear is that being around him makes you miserable. You can be much happier without him; once you get over the belief that you need him to make you happy.

"He doesn't mean it/ doesn't want to hurt me". Maybe, just maybe, if he had only ever said the hurtful things once that might be true. But when they become a regular part of his repertoire you'd better believe that either:

a) He doesn't care what he says to exert control over you
b) He means them

"He's had a hard time". Ok, so that one may be true. Thing is, so have you. And you're putting all your energies into trying to make his life sweeter. This means that you have taken the decision to create something meaningful precisely because of your past unhappiness. Sure, it will be even better when you start focusing on doing it for yourself rather than another wounded soldier. But if you are capable of making that choice, how come he isn't?

"I just know we can be happy together". Funny then, isn't it, that you are saying this at a time when you feel as low as you have ever felt in your life, and he has a lot to do with it? Given half a chance, I know, you will tell me how happy you were at the beginning. (If I had a dime for every time I've heard that story I'd be writing this from my palazzo in Venice, looking out at the gondolas gliding up and down the Grand Canal.) But here's the thing: your happiness spiel is the expurgated version. Behind it lies a less attractive tale about the things that worried you about him from the word 'go'. That is, before he set to work hypnotizing you with his silver tongued lies about knowing that you were so wonderful you could make his life perfect. (Now there is a tall order. If he isn't prepared to do it for himself, it's just not going to happen. That's an unspoken law of the universe.)

"He has so much potential". Maybe he has and maybe he hasn't. You're not his teacher, his boss or his agent. Still less are you his parent or his psychotherapist. Unless he is under the age of about 16 - and I sincerely hope he is not - realizing his potential is his responsibility. Besides, I don't really think you are talking about his potential to succeed in the world. What you are concerned with is his potential to become a great life partner. He, clearly, does not share that concern.

"I'm ruining/have ruined the best relationship I can ever expect." There are two glaring inaccuracies in this brief phrase. First, the best relationship? Yes, you may have had some other dire relationships, but you wouldn't be in a state of emotional melt-down now if this was a good relationship. You would be happy, relaxed, confident. Everything about you screams 'bad relationship' - and you know it. As for it being the best you can ever expect, that's what he has told you, isn't it? So it must be right. Because abusive men are never wrong. Ever. Are they? About anything. Sure, some present themselves very credibly to the outside world, but you know as well as I do that within the confines of their home they have a pretty skewed view about most things.

"It's not him, it's me." Well, at least the two of you agree on something; your hopelessness. It can be the basis for a relationship, as you have already discovered. It's certainly not the basis for a happy, functional one.

These are not the only lies that abused women tell themselves, but they are some of the key destructive ones. If they are lies that you have been telling yourself, the time has come to think seriously, now, about getting out. Your relationship is a sow's ear, it's never going to be a silk purse. More to the point, your partner may be a frog, but he will never be a prince.

You, on the other hand, have so many generous and loving qualities. They are what took you into this relationship in the first place. They are still with you. It's time you think seriously about getting out and lavishing some of your love on yourself. You will be amazed how rich the rewards will be.€™t

by Annie Kaszina

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