He would tell me to go to the store, and I usually had to take at least one of the kids, and when I got back there was hell to pay. I don’t think I ever went out of the house on my own, other than to work, when there was not some argument either on the phone while I was gone, or when I got back. He once told me I could have ‘an hour a day’ to myself and I could do what I wanted, but I had to ‘prove’ to him I could keep it to an hour and get back on time. As if he was in charge of me. It was so ridiculous, even at the time, that I just ignored the offer. He also admitted when we were still together, that sometimes he would ask me a question, just to see what I would say, setting me up for an argument. Unbelievable.When you put it in perspective, this scheming to be abusive and the whole cycle reinforces just how ingrained into their personalities this is and why it’s almost impossible for them to change. It’s truly heinous. This cycle is real and the main thing that keeps a woman in the relationship is the ‘normal’ stage. It’s very tempting to assume that as long as he is acting normal, he will continue to act normal. But it never happens, so don’t let it fool you.
I still see this cycle with Brad on an ongoing basis almost nineteen months after I left him. Just when I think he’s acting normal, and I think he has changed, he does or says something that is verbally abusive or seriously invasive of my privacy.Now that I think about it, I wonder if this cycle of abuse is why he is so keen on my dating. He has expressed his interest in my personal life in many ways. He says he thinks it will help my relationship with him if I have a boyfriend. As if I am somehow being mean to him because he thinks I am unhappy in my personal life. He repeatedly asks me if I need ‘personal time’ and if he can babysit. And he makes snide remarks about whether I am talking or texting with ‘my friends’ when the kids are around. He has even volunteered to take my photos for a dating site. It’s three shades of creepy.
Perhaps he wants me to date, so he can then start asking me abusive or obnoxious questions, setting me up so he can gain some control back with his behavior. It has actually already started, he told me once recently “I don’t care what you’re doing on your personal time, you could be shopping or f**king some guy for all I care”. Completely inappropriate, and demeaning to boot.To a certain extent his bad behavior does influence my behavior and I really hate that. I ‘let’ him say some of these ridiculous things, and I respond to his invasive questions as minimally as possible, because doing otherwise is fraught with danger. Not physical danger, but emotional danger. If I try to explain that what he asked me was inappropriate, he says that it was not, and that he talks to all of his friends this way, and he want to be friends with me. He says if I get defensive, I am wrong and it’s my fault and my problem, and I have to change my reaction to his behavior if I don’t want to be stressed by it. Sound familiar? It’s Abusive Tactics 101. Deny, deny, deny. Blame the other person. It not me, it’s you. And on it goes.
I guess I’m going to have to get used to this cycle, because I will be living with it as long as Brad is around. I have to keep telling myself not to get my hopes up after he acts normal for a while, because the cycle will continue. I can only hope that over time, the intensity fades. I understand that most divorced couples have some conflict, because otherwise they would not be divorced, but conflict with Brad is particularly bad because I can’t speak my mind. I have to put up with his behavior and put my mental state at risk for the sake of the kids, and keeping the peace. I don’t regret for a minute that I left him, because even this level of stress is 1000% better than living with him. I do regret that he and probably the kids will never understand what I personally went through, and continue to go through on a daily basis to make all this work. It's worth it though, because being divorced from an abuser is no fun, but living with one was torture.