At the end of the Friday night DV meeting Karen, the counselor, announced a new assignment, “For the next month I would like everyone to work on writing a paper listing 5 things you lost by staying in an abusive relationship. I want you to describe what you loss, how it was lost, when you realized you lost something. Then tell us why you plan on trying to regain the loss or if you suspect it wiser to let it go. This paper is one I want you to share with the rest of the group.”
Leaving I thought this will be easy; a month later I am still agonizing. I never concerned myself about what happened yesterday, my only care was surviving tomorrow. There was one goal: to live long enough to get my kids through college. Eventually I came up with these five losses.
- What: Being myself. I am afraid to express myself even to people who love me. I fear they will realize I am stupid and will stop wanting to be around me.
- How D did this: everything I said or did was wrong from my opinion to the way I did the laundry. When I disagreed with him, he withheld affection, attention, and his presence.
- When: I realized, I stopped expressing myself at a family gathering setting with my family and was afraid to join in a conversation for fear of looking stupid or being rejected.
- What: destroyed my self-worth. When I look in a mirror all I see is ugly. No matter what I weigh, how I do my hair, or what I wear – I see ugly.
- How D did this: It was subtle; I can count on one hand the number of compliments D gave me. Each one holds a memory like they are some precious jewel. I also remember all the compliments he lavished on other women. Each affair-took a bite out of me.
- When: One day D told me I had beautiful blue eyes, I realized that compliment meant way too much. Another time I read a letter sent to one of my friends from an anonymous person, it was sweet, kind and wonderful. It made her feel beautiful. Years later I learned D wrote the letter to her, I realized I never felt beautiful.
- What: I quit believing in a future. More times than not when plans were made something bad happened. I prayed just for nothing bad to happen.
- How D did this: He never kept a job and refused to save for tomorrow. If I saved anything I had to hide it. D got loans without telling me. He had a constant attitude of nothing’s going to happen. In our marriage the cops came to our door 5 times because of his behavior. We had hospital visits that could have been avoided. If I got anything nice we sold it to pay for his lawyers.
- When: One day I realized things will never change that we are living our future now, this is as good as it’s going to get.
- What: Squashed my creativity. I use to paint, write and draw. I use to love crafts.
- How D did this: I wasn’t allowed to leave them out; everything had to be put away even if I was only half way through a project. He criticized all that I tried to create by critiquing it with passive-aggressive compliments. D complained I was neglecting the kids and him if I had a hobby.
- When: I realized what you did to me when I watched you do it to our children.
- What: I have lost the ability to trust.
- How D did this: D cheated on me and manipulated me for his gain. Everything in our marriage was a lie. Every promise he made to me was broken. I couldn’t trust what I saw, heard, or what seemed logical. The secrets created an atmosphere of insecurity in the end I couldn’t even trust my own mind.
- When: When he went to jail for hurting me and all his secrets came pouring out like water. One after another: his second life, the mail not being delivered when I was off work, the extra women, bills I had no knowledge.
Why I will or won’t be trying to regain the loss. I think it is too late to regain some of the losses, age and life circumstances make it impossible. Others I think only time and education can fix. So really I have no plan-that’s my plan.