Your Baggage Is Your Baggage
My ex-husband expertly diverted many of our arguments by accusing me of mishandling my baggage. Two examples spring to mind:
- I did not ever deal with the rapes, and therefore I hated men and he couldn't talk to me,
- I idolized my mother and her decision to leave my dad (for another man, in his opinion), and therefore I was not committed to our marriage and he couldn't talk to me.
Back in the day, hearing these statements led me directly into self-examination or defiance. If I told him I would think about what he said (self-exam), then I only considered his take on the matter (Do I hate men? Am I unsure of my commitment?). Of course, immediate defiance put me squarely in a defensive position, directing the argument into a series of "You always" and"You never" statements that escalated and diverted the argument from the actual topic.
Despite his other constant accusation ("You always do whatever the he!! you want to anyway!"), it was he who would leave the argument because "You are living in la-la land!"...and therefore he couldn't reason with me. Either way, whether I took the route of peaceful self-examination or apparent irrationality, he justified his decision on the original argument to be the correct one and therefore "won" and proceeded to go off and do things his way.
Abuser's Use Your Issues Against You
Regardless, a dissertation on the dynamics of abusive arguments is counter-productive to the point of this post. Your abuser undoubtedly knows your baggage. Think about all of those wonderfully intimate talks when you thought you were sharing with your abuser - really making a connection. Perhaps you were. But what is the price you eventually paid for those intimate discussions?
Did your abuser throw them in your face as a cause for your irrationality or weakness? Did they make a "joke" your issues to friends? Did your abuser somehow use your baggage to "win" a point they had no business "winning"?
I'll bet you've felt the resulting pain of sharing intimacies with your abuser, and I'll bet you've also felt the dire need to share breakthroughs and updates with the one who betrayed you. Why? Most likely, you feel this need to share with your abuser because of codependence - you're looking to your abuser to give you a pat on the back, to validate your experiences...because you don't think that your opinion on the matter is good enough. Also, depending on how effective your isolation, you may have no one else to share your intimacies with!
Do not share any more heart-felt information about your mental, emotional, or spiritual state with someone who abuses your confidence in public (to humiliate) or in private (to win).
One of the contractual hinge-pins of a relationship is that you should be free to share anything with the one you've chosen to love. Unfortunately, the one you've chosen to love does not honor the same contract. They've broken the deal, not you, so it is perfectly reasonable for you to protect yourself by cutting their ties to your intimate thoughts.
Remove Your Abuser From Your Sharing Circle
I know this is easier said than done. Here are some ideas for you to try as you work to sever this avenue of abuse from your life:
- You could call a hotline and talk to a stranger about intimate topics. Although you do not know the person, the human connection can be a life-saver.
- You could join an online discussion group. A really great one is Patricia Evans' bulletin boards - I felt accepted and acknowledged from my very first "share".
- You could visit a therapist or call a mentor/life coach.
- You could bring an acquaintance in closer and find out if there's a basis for friendship there.
- You could be completely (completely!) honest with an existing friend or family member. It's better to choose someone who feels allegiance to you. The spouse of your abuser's best friend is probably not a great choice.
- You could commit to attending a domestic abuse group.
- You could start a blog (anonymously, if you like).
- You could renew your relationship to God or your higher power with the understanding that God is there for you (and any messages God wants to get to your spouse is well within God's power to deliver! It's out of your hands.)
- Better yet, you could choose to do many of these suggestions simultaneously, along with the ideas you come up with on your own.
It is unhealthy even in a great relationship to expect your partner to be able to help you with every mental, emotional, and spiritual needs 100% of the time. In an abusive relationship, looking to the abuser for that kind of support will backfire.
Find another outlet. Stop sharing intimacies that your abuser uses to hurt you. Protect yourself. Let your baggage be your baggage.
Jo, K. (2012, January 29). Your Baggage Is Your Baggage, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, March 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2012/01/your-baggage-is-your-baggage
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
Another great website for sharing is www.dailystrength.org
I have found the "Verbal and Emotional Abuse" group to be a great resource for support.