I have lived with emotional abuse for as long as I can remember. I did not know it was abuse. Like most kids, I believed the lie that I was to blame for how I was treated. I was bad, lazy, whatever. The threats and names that were yelled at me were my fault. The spankings were very harsh, but the real pain came from the contempt and hatred. I was’t being corrected; I was being “paid back”. Spankings ended when Mom felt better. Then there was a lecture about how I had destroyed all trust, and I had to earn it all back… and how it would take a very long time.
Failing was not allowed. Recovering from failure was not allowed. I was a very sensitive and compliant kid. I was always afraid I would be in trouble. Whatever I was doing wasn’t what I should have been doing. All of the fear, mixed with a strong unfulfilled need for friendship and love, ruled every day. It spilled into school, where my distorted expectations and pummeled sense of dignity kept me vulnerable, and generally lonely.
I did manage to keep some hope alive due to God’s help, and making some progress towards a goal. I graduated college despite the beginnings of depression, poor study habits, working and other setbacks. But I had done it. I graduated, and paid for it all myself (no loans, grants, etc.). I thought I was just about to escape my misery and find meaning and value.
I got married. The emotional abuse was a very different flavor. Very quiet, manipulative, controlling, I never saw it coming. I was so used to being told that I was the problem, that I wasn’t surprised that my wife told me that. It was so cold, but I was the one that ruined everything. I was also the only one who ever apologized, changed, made an effort.
Now, with multiple children and many years behind us, I have had an awakening. It wasn’t from the many counselors I saw. It wasn’t from any pastor or church. It wasn’t from any other family member. It was just that I bothered to stand up for what I thought was right, and for my sense of dignity. My wife’s family is very manipulative and controlling. Most of them are very covert about it. Standing up to them precipitated and escalation in my wife’s efforts to control. She started doing character assassination. She helped several people infer that she wasn’t safe with me because I would hurt her. Nothing could be further from the truth. Then I started doing research, and here I am.
I trust God and the Bible, but churches pastors and elders have been unhelpful, and even hurtful. My wife has a reputation for being quiet, submissive, and a very patient martyr. I just don’t measure up. I am righfully angry, and needed my wife to show remorse, regret, a change of heart and action. Apparently, those are not valued any more. I was vilified for not forgiving automatically. Now, I am looking for ways to heal, and find love that I have never had in my life. I am still married, mostly because the cost, financially and otherwise, is beyond my ability.
The resources for men in this stuation are ridiculously difficult to find. My depression has become largely debilitating. Employment is unreliable, and our car just died with no way to replace it. The outlook is pretty bleak.
I am at wit’s end.