I haven’t been shouted at by anyone for months. No one. It’s been a breath of fresh air.
They say that going ‘no contact’ with an abusive person is a really important step in the recovery process. I have read this on many informative websites and blogs about domestic abuse, but I really didn’t ‘get it’ until now.
Yesterday I had a phonecall. My divorce process is nearly over, last minute things are cropping up and a last minute change in our agreement by my ex, on a whim, has held things up. I should have seen this coming. Unfortunately the word ‘agreement’ to my ex means ‘you will agree with me’, I honestly don’t believe that he knows how to agree with anyone, unless it is to his benefit. So, after months of refusing to answer the phone, yesterday my phone rings and his name flashes on the screen… I hesitate for a moment, then I figure things need sorting, so I think, “why not?” And so I answered it.
Well, in equal measures I am both pleased and not so pleased I answered that phonecall. Not so pleased because I wasted yet another 20 minutes of my life being ‘ranted’ nonsense at by an angry, bitter man who has lost control of me, of his ‘vision’ of life and how it ‘should’ be. Ranted at by this man who just ‘cannot’ accept that this relationship is over and that I have moved on. He can’t accept that this continuing hostility, even after all this time, is entirely pointless. He cannot stop involving our poor kids in his anger and he can’t (won’t? Doesn’t care to?) see the damage he is causing to them. I am always saying that it is about time he let go of it. If for no other reason but for the children. But he can’t. He lives in perpetual anger. I think… In a strange way he enjoys it.
His catchphrase is ‘I’m NOT angry’ while shouting and swearing, all red faced and aggressive, sometimes to the point of spitting in people’s faces. He seem to continually try and come up with new ways to try and hurt me. Through being abusive, slagging me down to others, through the divorce process, even through the children. His life, right now seems to be solely dedicated to causing pain to another, namely me. And he doesn’t care if he takes our kids down with him. Even sadder than that, it is pain he can never inflict on me anymore. Not ever. Because I won’t allow it. If anything, as I have tried to tell him, it is the children, our children, who suffer the most.
But, I was also pleased that I answered that call. It reminded me why I’m not in a relationship with him any more (not that I ever, even for a moment forgot), it reminded me how awful that shouting sounds, and how sad that he thinks that shouting at me, or anyone, will get him anywhere. It reminded me how nonsensical he sounds when he goes off on one. It reminded me how anger is destructive, not to the person it is directed at, but to the person who is angry. The person it is directed at will eventually leave and all that is left behind is his anger. It reminded me how we now, thankfully, live in relative peace (save his occasional problem making with the kids), how there’s a damn good reason our home has a ‘no shouting’ policy and the boys are encouraged to find constructive ways to deal with anger that doesn’t involve abusing, calling names, shouting or intimidating another.
I was pleased because it had no effect on me whatsoever. In fact, I felt sorry for him. Oh, not so sorry that I would give him a chance to do it again. I will ‘never’ answer a call from him ever again, that’s for sure. But I felt some pity because perhaps he knows no other way. The compassionate person within me, the person who, once upon a time, loved him and tried to help him stop this, even though I was the focus of his anger, felt a little sorry for him, like you do a toddler who cannot control their temper. I pity him. Which, I suppose in some ways, is worse than hating someone.
Where my life is moving forward, my days full of planning for the future, love, giggles, fun and exciting times, his seems to be full of hatred, and anger and thinking of yet another fight to pick, something else to try and hold over my head in the hope that I fall apart and concede defeat.
I am not stupid, I hold tightly onto the fact that he is an adult, capable of controlling himself if he chooses to (and he does when he needs to, when it is to his benefit), he is capable of changing if he wants to. IF he wants to. The evidence suggests he has absolutely no desire to change at all. Throughout our relationship there were more than enough chances. I don’t pity him enough to be fooled by him, ever. I know, deep down, that he will never change.
It is all about him, every insult he slings my way. Everything he knows is weak within himself he tries to project onto me. And when (finally) it isn’t me anymore, it’ll be someone else, because that’s how it works. It is he who cannot live with himself. The guilt, the shame, the deep empty chasm in his soul that he tries to fill by stepping on and degrading others. It has nothing to do with me, I’ve never argued with anyone in my life. Never fallen out, got into slanging matches, never insulted or upset anyone. I don’t need to. It would, in fact, pain me to do so.
All in all, it was an important phonecall. It really didn’t sort out the issues that the call was supposedly about. It was just an angry rant by someone who is loathe to communicate respectfully with me, because that would mean he would have to acknowledge me as an actual human being instead of the monster he makes me out to be, the monster that exists only in his head, the excuse he has created to justify his abuse…
“If she had only done this… Not done that… been better… hadn’t been so selfish/stupid/annoying.”
The bruised ego can create all manner of fantastical ‘reasons’ why it is, in fact, he who is the one who has been ‘wronged’ and so ‘she must pay’. Despite something approaching a mountain of evidence to the contrary. The ego creates a story to explain how his anger and abuse are somehow ‘justified’, and by de-humanising me, perhaps it makes the process a little easier for him to swallow.
I know so well, through years of trying, that you cannot calm the anger of another, particularly the kind of irrational, vengeful anger that he and other abusive people spout and encourage others to spout too. There is nothing, nothing I can do to change him or those around him that have swallowed the sob story and ignored the evidence… as I foolishly once did.
This phonecall, however, that 20 minutes of pointless, ineffectual communication, served another, much more important purpose…
I know now that I absolutely will not be spoken to like that by anyone. No one. Not him, not you, not anyone.
And that, that simple thought, slap bang in the middle of his trademark rant, after months of no contact, means one very good thing…
It means that I have come a very long way in the recovery process.
And for that, I am very pleased.
Abuse happens in all kinds of relationships, though abusers are often men and victims are often women, we know very well that this is not always the case.
We are looking for your stories of abuse to feature. Many small voices make one LOUD voice.
Domestic abuse damages in whatever form and here at Many Small Voices we hope to gather the stories of those who have survived abuse into one resource to help and support those who are still victims. We also hope to support survivors through recovery once the abuse has stopped because the scars are still there and will remain forever. Support after abuse is just as important.
We are not experts, just people who are passionate that domestic abuse, in whatever form it takes, must be stopped.
If you think you or someone you know needs help please take a look in our links page to find a list of organisations that strive to help support victims of abuse.