Denial In Abusive Relationships Works - But Not After Them
Denial in abusive relationships is a coping skill abuse victims tend to overuse. I took a trip to Egypt to understand denial during my abusive relationship. You would think that now, after leaving my abuser, I would be on guard for the mighty river. And you would be wrong.
Boy oh boy. Have I ever made some mistakes after leaving my abusive husband. I know that from a distance it looks like I've got my stuff together. I mean, I write this blog and give tips on how to heal from abuse and have a really good grip on the dynamics of abuse.
You would think I'd be off making new kinds of mistakes, having new kinds of adventures and leaving Egypt and it's river to tend to themselves. Ha! Double ha! Oh no - now I'm really laughing at myself . . . hold on a second while I remember what I was talking about . . .
Oh - denial in abusive relationships works for different reasons at different points in the relationship. At first, denial was a head shake, and I thought, "I heard that wrong." But 18 years into an abusive relationship, denial was my habit. Denial was so far ingrained into who I had become that it gave me bucketfuls of problems after I left my abuser.
Denial In The Abusive Relationship Screwed Up My Ability To Trust
Denial screwed with my ability to trust from the beginning of the marriage. Since I married him, I should be able to trust him, so I did. Mistrust would have been a better reaction, but denial is strong.
So, my new self made its first big mistake. I tried to be who I was before I married Will. Despite the undercurrent of pain and mourning, I felt beautifully free sometimes. The last time I felt that way was when I was 16 with keys to a car and friends to hang out with in places none of us were supposed to go. Back then, I trusted everyone and out of all the people I'd met, only one really hurt me. I figured those were pretty good odds.
My new self decided to trust everyone. Do you know what happens when you open yourself up naively like that? You get a big purple light that emits from the top of your head and only jerks can see it. Jerks flocked to me like moths to a light bulb. (To the two people who may think I'm talking about you, I'm not.)
However, I did not want to be the former abuse victim with trust issues (so typical - my new self would defy the odds!). I denied the fact that I could not trust just anyone - for a while. I woke up when I found myself in a bathroom with a "tattoo artist" who suddenly wanted to show me the happy face tattooed on his penis. Don't ask.
I struggled for a few months to find that happy medium between trusting everyone and protecting myself (Trusting Yourself After an Abusive Relationship). It was difficult to stop denying that perhaps anyone in my position might have earned a few trust issues to work through.
Denial In My Abusive Relationship Screwed Up My Financial Sense
My second mistake was financial on the surface. For 18 years, no matter how badly Will treated me, he did provide for our family financially. We always had enough. But if we found ourselves in dire straits, a deployment or extra job would come through and save us. Financially, I was spoiled. So I gave myself a shopping habit to make me feel better about everything else.
I knew how to budget and handle money because that was my job during my marriage. After leaving, I knew my income was drastically reduced; I knew I needed a job. But my experience had been that just as it got really bad, money would magically arrive and save me. Guess what? Will was the money-maker. There were no more financial miracles headed my way.
I had me. I had a minimum wage job that never quite made it to full-time status. And I had attorney bills. And then I had medical bills. And I always had other bills I couldn't pay. Despite my previous financial astuteness, it turns out that you have to have money to save it, invest it, give it, and buy Neutrogena Body Oil. It really hurt when I couldn't afford my body oil anymore. (Anymore meaning after I'd maxed my credit cards.)
Although at face value this seems like a money problem, it was really a continuance of my denial problem. It was easier to deny the abuse and go shopping than to look at the truth. After leaving, it was easier to believe money would fall from heaven than to deal with my lack of it.
Denial In My Abusive Marriage Made It Tough For Me To Handle Unhealthy Relationships
This part is really tough for me to write because I dearly love the two people involved in this story. One is my son and the other is my ex-boyfriend. Both of them had major drug problems that I did not think I was denying at the time. In hindsight, I denied the problems were as large as they were.
My son and I went round and round. Eventually, just before his 18th birthday, I convinced him to go to rehab. He went, but it was only so his girlfriend could continue living with us. His girlfriend, in the meantime, did not stop using. When Marc came home, the problem doubled. I forced his girlfriend to live elsewhere, thinking that would show my son how serious I was about his drug abuse.
He had a lesson for me in mind instead. Without going into details, his choices to increase his involvement in the drug world pulled my triggers. Instead of kicking him out, I made excuses for him. I innately knew I was denying the problem, but I couldn't find a way to fix it. In the end, due to my son's choices and the fact that I had no money, I ran away to Texas with my now ex-boyfriend, the second person this story is about.
You know what? I don't even want to talk about my ex-boyfriend today. I don't know what is going on with him completely because I've moved to Indiana with family to try to get a grip on my finances. I know I miss him. I know I love him. But it is much easier to talk about Marc because he is now drug-free!
It took a lot for Marc to get there. He had to do it on his own under some particularly taxing and strange circumstances. But he did it! For all of my excuses and denial, my son finally did what I dreamed he would do.
Sometimes, letting go is the answer. I'm still learning to let go of my major coping mechanism of denial. I'm not quite sure who I am if I can't bury my head in the sand.
What was your biggest mistake after leaving abuse? See also: Is Leaving an Abusive Relationship the Answer to Mental Health Problems?
Holly, K. (2013, November 17). Denial In Abusive Relationships Works - But Not After Them, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2013/11/denial-after-leaving-abuse