Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now?
Your bandmate needs a sounding board.
It's time to Ask The Band!
I sincerely hope you will take time to read my story. I hope you can give me some help or advice. I am completely heartbroken. I'm feeling worthless and lonely.
When my boyfriend (let's call him Steve) and I met for the first time I was not ready for a relationship. I was at a point in my life where I was completely happy alone and I wanted to stay that way. I also thought he was doing drugs on weekends and was a dealer.
Still, I thought he was beautiful and that I could get to know him. We would be friends with benefits but nothing more. I would not let myself be emotionally attached to him.
We met twice and he was wonderful, not what I had expected. He was so much fun and cute. The third time, we slept together. Soon afterward, I got drunk while out with a friend and had a one-night stand that I didn't tell him about.
We were sleeping together for a couple of months. I was in denial that I wasn't in love with him, but I really was and I knew he loved me too. We kept "just sleeping together," but we also did many things that couples do. We officially started our relationship seven months after we met for the first time.
A few months afterward, he asked me if I had had a one-night stand and I told him yes, it had happened a few months before we met. A couple of months later, I could not bear to hold the truth in any longer. I felt like if he would forgive me and accept me for what I did, we were meant to be together and would be able to conquer all. If not then maybe we should not be together.
So I decided to tell him what had been on my mind for so long. I told him the truth that it had happened after we (Steve and I) had met three times and slept together once. He flipped. He said at first that he could not be with me anymore but he would think about it. When we talked together the next day we decided to make it work.
Four months after I told him he went on a weekend away with his friend to another country where he got really drunk and kissed a girl. He told me she kissed him and that he went away as soon as he figured out what had just happened. I was devastated, completely crushed. I felt betrayed by the love of my life.
I decided to be with him anyway because he was so sorry that he cried and told me it was a mistake. I never screamed at him once for this and never called him any names, I was just sad and cried. We stayed together and made it work.
For eight months after I told him when my incident had happened he called me a whore almost every day. Every time we fought it was because he was thinking about that incident. He told me he hated me, that I deserved nothing good, that I didn't deserve him, that he was a much better person than me, that he should be with a girl that didn't do such a thing, that I was disgusting, that I was a whore, that I should fuck off.
Whenever we fought about this I was scared to death. Three times he grabbed me by the neck, one time he lifted me up on the neck from the floor. Sometimes he grabbed me by the arms and shook me. Many times he held his fist up against me like he was going to hit me but he didn't. He told me "I'm so close to fucking hitting you right now you disgusting whore." About four times he pushed me so hard I fell.
Whenever I mentioned I was sad about the incident that happened on his trip, he always managed to turn it against me. What had started with me being sad about what he did ended with him screaming and me being scared to death, holding my arms around my head in fear of him hitting me.
Every time after we fought I comforted him. I said everything was going to be okay and that I forgave him.
I was never allowed to be sad. He would scream "Why are you crying, you whore? You don't deserve to cry." I was crying because I was scared, because I was sad and felt like I was going crazy. I was also crying because I did not like remembering the one-night stand and he kept on reminding me.
Two days ago we split up.
He told me he could never be with a girl that did such a thing when we had already met. He didn't care when I tried to tell him that it was the biggest mistake I ever made and that I was never going to be emotionally involved with the other man.
When we split, he did not scream at me. We were just sad to be splitting. I asked him whether he thought a therapist would help or if he could ever forgive me. He said that he thinks that a therapist wouldn't help with this, that I disgust him and he will never forgive me.
I was okay with ending things with him because I had been telling myself that I deserved better, that he may have been abusing me emotionally and physically during our relationship. So now come my questions.
Do you think a therapist would have been able to fix this anger and his thoughts about this incident and that it could have worked out for us?
Do you think I'm crazy for asking this question because I am not supposed to want to be with a guy that breaks me down, has destroyed my self-esteem and has complete power over me?
Was I abused?
How can I fix my self-esteem?
Right now I only remember the good things and can't seem to remember the bad things. It is only when I describe this to someone that I realize that this was kind of sick. I never said anything to him when he screamed at me. I was desperate - and still kind of am - to make it work.
The people I have told say that he is not good for me and that I should be happy to be out. But why do I not feel it? Why do I only want to be with him and make it work? I am still so in love with him, even though I am not as crazy about him after all this.
Can you help me in any way?
Most of us, well, we've been through some garbage in our lives - and we've given power to a lot of people who simply don't deserve it.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We here at Band Back Together are shining the spotlight on ALL survivors. Depression, Abuse, Trauma.
It's time to take back the power. Tell us how YOU have taken the power back in your life!
Society talks a lot about empowerment. Let's empower the women, let's empower the minorities, let's empower the dogs, empower the trees, empower the third world, empower the whales, empower the children, empower the differently abled. There's nothing wrong with any of that; these are all very noble pursuits. These are all things that need to be done.
However, I could never figure out how any of that applied to the real world as I understood it. Of course, having trouble figuring out how anything applied to the real world as I understood it wound up being a huge part of my addiction. I tried to make life fit my world-vision rather than trying to understand my place in the world at large.
Through the process of working the 12 steps, I have learned that life will never fit my world-vision. That's okay today, because the flip side is that once I accept that life is life (and I can't change it) I can begin to harness the power of the universe, and I can live happy, joyous, and free.
Having survived addiction, more than one abusive relationship, car accidents that should have killed me, prison, and other random shit, I realized that I was powerless over a lot of stuff.
Now, how does powerlessness over addiction or diseased thought processes relate to our April theme "Take Back The Power"? How does accepting my individual powerlessness relate to taking back the power? Well, let me try to explain it.
Once I admitted that I was powerless over my addiction (and the sick thought processes that go along with it that led me into abusive relationships, reckless driving, prison, and other random shit), I had to seek some power from some other source. It was too painfully obvious that I, alone, had none.
Where did I find this power? From fellow recovering addicts; from you beautiful folks here at The Band; from a power greater than myself. My Higher Power speaks to me through all of you, through other people in recovery (whether it is recovery from addiction, surgery, cancer, or whatever else), and through the wonders that surround me every day.
Finding power, for me, started when I admitted and accepted that I had no power on my own. That is not to say that I am a weak, useless creature. It just means that I had no way of doing anything BY MYSELF. It took a fellowship of like-minded people to help me stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live. It took people who cared about victims of domestic violence to help me find a way to break the cycle and find a healthy relationship based on dignity and trust. It took a whole Band of strangers to help me realize that we are all connected, regardless of the individual circumstances that make any of us feel different and alone.
Today, together, we together can do what not one of us can do alone. Together, we can recover, we can break the cycle of violence, we can survive loss, we can survive illness. Although each of us alone may be powerless over something, together we can harness the power of the human spirit and do some powerful shit. Together, we are damn near unstoppable.
It took admitting I was powerless for me to find some power and strength. It took admitting I had a problem to find a solution to what ailed me and my life. It took a lot of help to do that; I didn't do it alone. It took a village to raise this child.
Thank you, each and every one, for being part of my village. Thank you, each and every one of you (addicts and earthlings alike) for helping me find the power to recover from addiction. Thank you for helping me harness the power of God as I understand it and break the cycle of domestic abuse. Thank you, each of you, for your quiet, loving acceptance that helps me keep my prison time in the past and gives me a chance to be a normal human being today. Thank you, all of you, for the love that flies through cyberspace when the pain from old injuries prevents me from functioning like ME.
It takes a village to raise a child. Together, WE can do what I cannot do alone. Take back the power. And if you are powerless over something, let's harness our collective power. It's why we're here.
I am a young woman who just left my abuser.
It happened today.
As a bit of background, I am American and my fiance is Mexican. We had our cultural differences but I am studying a good bit of Latino studies and Spanish at college, so the culture isn't foreign to me; I am mostly bilingual. I have been living with my fiance and future relatives for about a month and a half.
It was the typical machista stuff. He told me what to wear, how to cut my hair, how to wash dishes, mop floors, do laundry, and any other household chore you can think of. He told me how frequently I should bathe, when I could descansar ('rest' in Spanish), and when I should be working. He didn't ask me to help with dinner, but would instead tell me.
If I confronted him on how he spoke to me he would say, "This is how I am and if you don't like it I'll find another woman who doesn't mind." If I were smart I would've told him to go find her, but instead I endured.
I kept thinking I would convince him that I was good - good enough to merit being spoken to with respect. I thought if I did enough chores, or was good enough in bed, or made his life easier (including getting up at 4:00am to pack his lunch and help him get ready for work), that he would grow to appreciate me. I should've known better.
I now have no friends - my fiance and I got in a fight after I got coffee with my best girlfriend.
By some miracle my family found it within themselves to forgive me for ignoring them for months. I am now back at my mother's house. If I hadn't had a place to go, I wouldn't have left.
I am 21 years old and a full-time college student. For the past month and a half I have been pulling double duty on four hours of sleep or less a night doing house chores and schoolwork. I could only do schoolwork in the morning after he left for work because if I sat for any length of time in front of him he would call me lazy and tell me to go get some chores done. I would get my week's worth of schoolwork done in the morning after he left between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00.
I am not sure how I pulled off the grades I'm getting this semester. He would always ask me what my degree is for if I am going to be in the house all day. If I was ever even ten minutes late getting in from classes he would freak out and scream at me and tell me I didn't really love him, that he was going to get tired of me and leave me and then no one would want me because I am used goods.
Today I had a family emergency. My mother called to tell me my cousin two states away had a stroke and was in the hospital with partial paralysis. I wanted to be with my mother but I knew I couldn't talk to him about it and I needed his permission to leave the house.
When my mother called I sat down on the bed. Tears fell silently from my cheeks as he entered the room. He took one look at me and gruffly asked, "Tu que tienes? No te dije que te apures?" (What's wrong with you? Didn't I tell you to hurry up?)
I couldn't tell him that I was upset or why I was upset because I knew as painful as the situation was for me, he couldn't feel sympathy for anything I might have to say. So I simply answered "nada." There is nothing wrong.
He said, "Then hurry up. We are leaving."
We were leaving to do the week's grocery shopping with the rest of the family, eight of us total. It was my least favorite activity while living with my fiance and future in-laws because I was frequently shamed and yelled at for being culturally incorrect (in my own country).
I knew I just couldn't go on that day. I couldn't pretend nothing was wrong.
My dad, who has been basically absent my entire life except for around birthdays, Christmas, and the odd little league game, had just sent me a series of texts telling me that even though he hadn't really been there, he is proud of who I am and that no man will ever deserve me. I couldn't believe it - still don't - but his messages gave me the nudge I needed to make the decision I'd spent a month agonizing about.
"Hurry up, we're leaving," my fiance called.
I said, "Babe, I don't want to."
He replied, "you don't want to? I didn't ask. We're going; get your coat."
I replied, "I just said I don't want to. I don't want to."
This exchange went on a few times, then he jerked around violently and came closer. I was afraid he was going to hit me. He has never hit me but there have been several times when I thought he might.
Instead of hitting me, he said a lot of ugly things, including several swear words in Spanish - cursing my friends and my family, saying that they were always coming between us and between me and my duties as a wife. I reminded him that he promised when I moved in that I could see my family whenever I wanted. He said, "Yes, whenever you want. Just not now because we're going grocery shopping."
I said, "You go. I'm staying."
And he said, "If you don't come with me, I don't ever want to see you in this house again when I come home." I asked him if he was sure and he said yes - he didn't want a wife that cared more about other people than him.
I reminded him that he shouldn't talk that way to me, that if he was serious I would leave. I wouldn't stay where I wasn't wanted, and I told him he might regret it later when his anger passed. He said he might and left with his family. Then he sent me a message telling me he wanted me to get my things and leave. I asked him again if he was sure. He said yes.
I packed quickly and was out in 30 minutes. I left my ring and the jewelry he bought me. My sister and mother say I should've kept them, but something about that felt icky.
He came home from his shopping trip and texted me - told me he couldn't believe I had moved out. That it hurt him that I left my ring, that it was a gift given in love and that he would flush it down the toilet. He said he would never let another woman make him cry; he never wanted another wife. He said so many things. He is still texting me.
When I write it all out like this I wonder why I was even still there. But when you are actually living it and you love the person and you are accustomed to a certain level of abuse in your home environment, the lines get very fuzzy.
I can't go back, though.
I won't go back.
I've been on the path toward recovery most of my adult life. Of course, it wasn't always defined as recovery. I just knew I had problems that were considered "secrets."
When I was younger, if you mentioned you were "in recovery," the person you were talking to would've stopped and said, "Recovering from what?" No one understood the aspects of alcoholism, love addiction or recovery from the torture of a narcissist or an abusive spouse.
"Recovering from what?" That's one heck of a loaded question. I'd already read every self-help book on the market.
At nineteen years old, I first sought spiritual counseling. I'd come to the enlightened conclusion that I was in a horribly abusive marriage and was now pregnant with our first child that He Did Not Want!
I'd been married less than one year.
In desperation, I called my Narcissistic mother, not knowing that she was a major part of my problem. She advised me to meet with a local Pastor at a very conservative church for spiritual counseling.
This is part of the mind fuck a NPD Parent causes their adult child. She, my NPD Mother, seemed very empathetic, loving and helpful.
Now I know that she hated having someone else controlling me. We all know how she LOATHED my NPD misogynistic husband.
So there I sat, across from a judgmental, older man still married to his only wife. She appeared so beaten down that when she opened the door to their home, I seemed able to see right through her.
My instinctive antennae, threw up a huge red flag. It screamed: DANGER AHEAD! DANGER AHEAD!
Of course, being a good adult child of an alcoholic as well as being trained for marriage by my mother, who had narcissistic personality disorder and Munchhausen Syndrome, I ignored my instincts and plowed ahead.
I can never forget how translucent the preacher's wife had become under his abuse. He'd turned her into a non-person.
She was me in twelve years.
In walks a willing victim - I'd asked to see him, after all. Boy, did he slam me.
After I told him about my marriage of 14 months, he said, "Either you are a terrific liar or you're in a hopeless situation." Huh.
But what does that mean?
Well, according to the good preacher, I needed to become "a better wife.
"Read this portion of the Bible EVERY day for 30 days - model what a good wife is and he will be a changed man.
No. That definitely did not work. My husband LOVED my new attitude. How submissive I'd become, how I subjugated myself to his every whim, completely under his control.
I tried harder to be a better wife for a man who'd never, ever appreciate my efforts. He'd simply find new, more creative ways to abuse me.
It took ten more years, two more babies, a dear friend dying way too young, before I fell apart again.
I started with cigarettes, with the intention of pissing off my husband. He smoked, so I smoked.
There's a saying in one recovery group, "Eating poison and waiting for him to die." Starting to smoke cigarettes in my thirties is pretty close. He didn't give a shit.
Next, I took a handful of Vicodin and washed it down with a Budweiser. Yeah. Now THAT helped me.
I was able to make a lovely dinner, care for my delightful children and thought I may even be able to endure sex with my abusive husband at bedtime.
Thus began my love affair with alcohol and prescription drugs. My children were destroyed, confused by the radical change in their mother.
My husband, however, never said a word.
Alcoholism is a genetic disease that may be successfully managed by total and complete abstinence. This is a medical diagnosis, a fact, and not up for personal debate. Like diabetes, if you got alcoholism, you have it.
If you want to live a long life as an alcoholic or diabetic, you have to follow a plan to stop the advance of all the devastating problems that arise as the result of improper management of the disease.
I researched alcoholism until I came to believe that I would die if I didn't cease drinking. My body could only take so much abuse. I couldn't hold my liquor, but I could take enough pills to kill a horse. Aahhhhh.
Plus? You can't SMELL PILLS! Yay! I'd thought I was tricking everybody. Turns out, I was only bullshitting myself.
My path to recovery was long and hard for those who loved me. I'd had no idea how much hurt I'd caused the people in my life.
I'd begun to abuse my prescriptions to avoid feeling the pain; the anguish of what my life had become. I was dangerous, desperate to escape the pain.
As my children got older, I was stoned for every event in their lives. I'd be wasted by the time we got to each planned event.
They'd become more ashamed of me, while I obliviously believed I was acting normally. My children began to give me a "field sobriety" test before we left the house.
Of course I'd pass...then. But by the time we got to our destination, I'd be an inelegant, clearly-altered, nicely dressed, stoned mess.
My children were mortified, angry and powerless is protect themselves.
Back To School Night was forbidden to me by the kids.
My kids tried humor, tears, anger, recriminations, reenactments and shame. The only thing that made a dent was when my youngest daughter asked for prayer at our church.
I tried the good codependent guilt trip by telling her,"Don't EVER tell anyone what's going on in this house!"
At a sage fifteen, she told me, "Mom, you're the alcoholic, YOU NEED PRAYER."
I entered treatment after my oldest daughter got married - I have little-to-no memory of her wedding. She knew better than to ask me to help her with the preparations since I was as dependable as a cool wind in August. More shame.
We finally discovered a herd of pink elephants in our living room. We've only just begun cleaning up the enormous piles of elephant shit. Thank God it's pink - easier to find.
Who knows how long it will take to finish up the recovery? Every time I believe I've run off the last one, a rogue elephant stampedes through the house.
I never do know what it'll look like, smell like, or the damage it'll do. I just know that I have to deal with it, no matter what.
I earned it.
The good old fashioned way.
He seemed perfect.
Right off the bat, he swept me off my feet with promises of a fairy tale future (don't buy it, ladies), telling me that God had a plan for us and that we were meant to be together. I didn't even believe in God. He was protective and even a little jealous, which I liked; it made me feel wanted and cared about.
He wanted me to be a real wife, he said, to stay home and have kids, to cook, to "get" to do all the things a wife should be able to do. I bought it hook, line and sinker.
Why? Cause I'm 34 and I was feeling old and unwanted. He was 24 and was really into me. He made me feel young and vibrant, and more importantly, over time, he convinced me that he was the only guy who would want me.
I have all these health problems, you see, and most guys don't want that baggage. Hell, I don't want that baggage. But I have to live with it.
This guy, he was willing to deal with it -- on the condition that he remind me on a daily (sometimes multiple times a day) basis that I was lucky to be with him because no one else would be willing to put up with crap like that. Because I was so crazy that no one else would want me. I was so high maintenance that no one else would ever give me a second look.
We got "married" after dating for only a week. He said we were "married-by-God," which is Good-Little-Christian-Boy code for "Now I get to get into her pants." Good little Christian boys wouldn't have sex before marriage, and therefore he had to marry me because he was so desperate to get into the cookie jar. Then two months later we got actually for-real married.
He told me I was bad in bed. Maybe I am, I don't know. But no one else has ever said that. He said my pussy felt bad to him and he didn't like having sex with me.
He told me I'm fat. Oh yeah, by the way, I'm a recovering bulimic and anorexic. Don't fucking tell me I'm fat, you dipshit.
He called me a bitch practically every day. He pretended to choke me, saying it was just playing.
He made me do all the housework, cooking, and laundry, because of course, that's women's work. We lived at home with his parents and he did absolutely nothing except play Xbox and masturbate to videos of other women. He talked about spending his savings, money that should have been ours, on a RealDoll.
I realize I'm just listing all his faults, but dammit, I need someone to listen to me. I don't have any friends. All my friends were alienated by this relationship I had with this controlling man-boy. So I'm sorry for whining and dumping my problems on you, Band, but you're all I've got.
And if I can give you one piece of advice from someone who's been there...
If any guy or girl ever, ever tries to tell you how to dress, who to hang out with, what you're allowed to do, or makes you call home when you go out so that they can keep track of your whereabouts, then you are in an abusive relationship and you need to get the hell out before it's too late.
Abusers do not change. They only get worse. They will try to lure you back with promises like you wouldn't believe. DO NOT GO. They are the same bad person as before, just with a shiny new coating.
Now that I've said all this I realize how blind and how foolish I was. I thank the God I don't believe in that I got out when I did after only a year. I may be scarred from this but at least I am out. Thanks for reading, Band, and I hope to talk to you again soon, preferably on a more positive note.
Band Back Together has been nominated for Best Group or Community Weblog in the 2013 Bloggies! Visit their site to vote and check out the other categories!
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