Explaining myself. Always explaining. I’m never prepared for it. Everything I do has to have a ‘reasonable’ explanation. I can’t just do something because I feel like it. What if he doesn’t like it? Then I’ll be asked questions. Endless, incessant questions, over and over again.
Abusers make you explain your actions.
Why did you say that? Why would you think thats ok? What are you doing that for? Why are you wearing that? Why are you talking to him/her? Who said you could do that? What are you thinking?! Who the fuck do you think you are? What do you expect me to do? How do you expect me to react to such fucking stupidity?!
Often the reasons given, albeit true, aren’t good enough. It’s not the reason he wants to hear. The reason he wants to hear he has already decided upon. The narrative in his head has decided on the outcome of this story before I even knew there was a story. Whether it is my truth or not, he will push, push, push to hear what he wants to hear. Twist and turn and distort my words to fit his version…
“He’s a nice guy, we were just laughing about how late the bus was.”
“Nice? Nice? What does that mean? Nice? I bet you were pleased the bus was late so you could chat to your new friend. I know what nice means. Oh, I know exactly what you mean.”
The truth doesn’t matter. What matters is that you engage in the dialogue so that somewhere, somehow, someway you end up practically confessing to something that is so far removed from the truth it isn’t even funny.
“Honestly, it wasn’t like that, we were both stuck there, I even told him you were coming to pick me up in a minute. He said if they were on time just once it would be more unusual and we laughed, then you were there. That was it, I swear. I wasn’t laughing before then, I don’t fancy him!”
“Can’t you see how watching you smiling and laughing with that bloke makes me feel? When you’re like this with me? When you’re miserable and stupid and fucking boring, then I come to pick you up because your bus was late. I came to pick YOU up, did YOU a favour. I was already home, I had a cup of tea, but I still got in the car FOR YOU to pick you up, in the RAIN and I turn up to find you flirting with some random guy you’ve never met before?? Look at you! You must think I’m stupid! Look at you crying now! You didn’t think that then though did you? Oh no. You didn’t give a shit about how it made ME feel then did you? How YOU hurt ME! How selfish and childish are you? Stop fucking crying for fucks sake! You see? If other people could see how fucking miserable you are with me, after all I do for you and you’re always so fucking miserable, I should be crying! I’m more upset than you are! You don’t give a shit about me, I might as well be dead.”
On and on and on. The same questions, over and over. The anger increasing, the insults getting nastier. The build up to the inevitable explosion. Me, frantically trying to explain my way out of it, hope that this time he will hear sense and NOT explode. I genuinely believed that one day he would just stop, look at me and say…
“Oh yes, I can see it so clearly now, I misunderstood, I’m so sorry.”
However stupid, naive and misguided that is, I did. So I explained and explained with hope and fear driving me forward. Until the day I realised how utterly pointless it all was. That no amount of explaining will make any difference. In fact, it makes it worse.
So, one day I made a decision. I stopped explaining. It wasn’t easy because he’d push and push. He really didn’t like it. I was effectively stopping the dialogue so there was nothing for him to twist. Nothing to feed his paranoia and anger on. I would answer as simply as I could and, where possible, walk away.
“So you think that’s alright, do you?”
“Really? REALLY? Given that you’re the person you are, and what others say about you. Not ME, the others… You think, you actually think you’re right about that?”
Please don’t misunderstand. It doesn’t make anything better. But there’s something empowering about not having to explain my actions. Choosing not to explain my actions. And I know it annoys him. Because he needs that talk, that nonsensical, twisting, crazy dialogue to wind himself up into a fury, because without that his excuses to abuse are even more lame and pointless. He can’t blame me for being rude, or difficult, if I don’t explain, disagree or engage… He’s got nothing to kick off about. Not that he had anything to kick off about in the first place… But he’d find something in those words… Bent into something ugly and unrecognisable if you stood it next to the truth.
And he will find something anyway. Oh, he doesn’t need my input to release a torrent of abuse onto me. But I’ve saved a crap load of energy that I’d previously have wasted on him by not explaining. I’ve saved energy that I can now use to shield myself from it when it does come. Because it will. It is only ever a matter of time.
Explaining. You shouldn’t have to keep explaining yourself. You are an adult. You are capable of making decisions on your own, whether someone else likes it or not. You can deal with the negative impact and the positive impact of your decisions without the unsolicited ‘help’ of anyone else. If someone is making you explain your every action, think very carefully about why. It is a form of control, designed to make you doubt yourself.
And doubt yourself you will if you allow it to continue.
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