When I think of intimacy, I think of the ability to share personal insights or facts with another person who will keep them between the two of us and hold them gently. Holding my personal fears, joys, mistakes and successes gently is important to me. When my abuser would manipulate the intimate facts of me to control me, I felt he betrayed me just as if he had stood on a rooftop and blurted private facts of me into a bullhorn.
And yet, although my intimacies often came back to bite me in the butt, I kept sharing them with him! Why? Because I thought that sharing brought closeness, appreciation, understanding, and love. I thought I could force him to love me the way I wanted by being completely open and honest.
Some Ways My Intimate Behaviors Fueled Abuse
I continued “setting the example” by sharing my newest insights about our children, the world at large, my dreams and goals and all because I wanted him to love me wholly, respectfully, … gently like a lullaby. I laid my throat bare for him because I thought showing him how to love like I wanted to love would lead him closer to me.
I wanted him closer to me because if he truly understood me, he wouldn’t hate me so much. I was sure of it. But I was wrong.
I was wrong in at least two ways:
- I transferred my motivations onto him and expected him to act the same way I acted (co-dependent expectation very similar to abusive expectation albeit completely different motivation and behavior).
- The more I revealed myself to him, the more he fought to contain me (remember, abuse is about controlling the victim, and to best control the victim you can’t have them having thoughts of their own…the victim must behave like a programmed robot and the abuser must do the programming).
In essence, the more intimate I became towards him, the greater my participation in the cycle of abuse, and the more abuse I suffered.
Some Ways His Intimate Behaviors Fueled Abuse
There were times, especially in our early years together, that I felt he opened up to me without fear. I don’t know what the triggered his shut-down, but it seems to have happened right after we were married. After our marriage, there were no new intimate revelations from him. For example, everything I know about his childhood I learned before our marriage.
Sometimes, rarely, he would break down and share one of those old stories. I would run to him, encourage him to release the pain or some such nonsense, and all would be good between us for awhile no matter what abuse instigated his break-down. I was so happy that he “opened up” to me that I could overlook the immediate past for the silent promise that “now things will be better”.
Let me tell you, the same stories, repeated over and over and over again, do not prove or enhance intimacy! In hindsight, the only thing repeating the same stories proved was that my husband did not grow or change based on new, more adult, understandings about his childhood or parents. His repetition of the same old stories served to remind me why he was the way he was and why I should forgive him for any transgression.
I never stopped to consider that maybe he used his intimate thoughts just as he used mine – to get the upper-hand in our relationship.
Remember, intimacy is possible even when there is distrust, disrespect, and abusive disruptions in the relationship. In an abusive relationship, “sharing yourself” and “knowing him/her” intimately guarantees only a stockpile of ammunition.