It has been a while since I posted anything and there is probably a good reason for that. I have learned a lot in the past few months and been able to learn a lot about myself and even A. I know that I can never truly get to know answers, but I can use the observations of the day to day to make some pretty good guesses. Seven years will do that.
I also realized a little while ago that I thought I was through the hurt and now working on damage control. Once you are away from the hurt of the situation, you can really start to heal yourself. You can also truly see the damage that was done. At a minimum, you might have some trust issues. Good, you should. I am finally at a point where I can rebuild myself and take stock at what I am left with.
I have to say that overall, I am glad that I made the decision to go through this process and work on myself. I am much better off for having done this instead of just going into another relationship to mask the issues. I realize that if I had, it would never have worked because the problems would just have repeated.
There was a study that was done in the 80’s to show what a terrible drug cocaine was. They put a water cocaine solution in a cage with a rat and the rat became obsessed with it and then died. They repeated the experiment multiple times with the same result. It was not until recently that they reran the study with one important difference. They put multiple rats in the cage together and found different results. They found that the rats did not have the same addictive reaction and they tended to survive. They generally chose the non-drugged water and only occasionally the drugged water. So, what’s the lesson? Socialization is key in avoiding addiction. So, how does this affect me? I have been through two abusive relationships that together span 17 years. In both cases, the women involved exhibited addictive behavior. In one case it was World of Warcraft and in the other, the SCA. In both cases I was always secondary to the hobby. In both cases, their social circle diminished to the point that their hobby and positive outlet became an addiction. In one case this was due to outside influences and in another it was almost on purpose. I tested this theory on a few other people I know as well. A good friend of mine actually did withdraw socially after her divorce. The main difference is that she did it on purpose and always intended to reenter into social circles. She specifically took the time to work on herself and get herself into a better situation. When this was done (or as done as it was going to get) she re-integrated herself. This socialization is huge.
In the beginning posts I talked about developing a network of people in order to survive the abusive relationship. I didn’t realize at the time how important it was. You may not be an addict, but abusive relationships can be a cycle because it’s all you know and it’s weirdly comfortable. That network is really a lifesaver. One of the reasons that AA works is that it socializes people and they realize that they are not alone. I know that many people who have been reading this blog have also been in abusive relationships and hopefully have some guidance or at least it has helped in some way and if you do nothing else, reach out to people and get a therapist. It really is the most important thing you can do.
Now back to the rats, one of the things that prompted the reexamination of the study was that someone noticed that there were people who noticed a simple oddity. 1) There are heroin addicts and heroin is highly addictive and 2) There are people who go into the hospital, are prescribed opiates for pain and yet do not become addicted. Not only are these opiates the equivalent of heroin, but the equal of really good heroin. So, what made the difference? Socialization.
We know that there is a link between depression and addiction. When you are depressed you tend to withdraw from those around you or in worse cases, reach out inappropriately. There are those people who when they reach out simply want to hear that people feel sorry for them, they actually don’t want to hear what they have to say. You need to listen to them, it’s important. You need their feedback and you need to honestly let them help you. They may even tell you things that you don’t want to hear. Developing your listening skills is huge. I know that there are some people who just think that they are right all the time. You can’t be that person because honestly, look where it got you. Unless you had the goal of getting into an abusive relationship, you might have made a judgment error someplace. Don’t be that person who posts on Facebook “I feel terrible about the situation in (insert name of country here)”, “I had such a terrible dream last night”, or “I am so sad that (celebrity name here) is no longer with us, I feel so empty inside”, etc. All that’s going to get you is a bunch of people posting things like “Hugs” and, “so sorry to hear that”. One of the best things I did was maintaining my friendships. This was easier than I realized because I found that people actually were aware of how I was being treated and actually liked me. They were there for me and I really didn’t lose anything from the experience, only gained. The weird thing is that I didn’t really realize that they liked me because I always put A first.
So, here’s a bit of insight about the past year. I have accomplished a lot. I have started my own business, I have learned what it is like to have friends, I have discovered what I want to do with my life, I have become in better physical condition, I have learned what a good relationship looks like, I have discovered the joys of Karaoke and made it a point to meet new people. I have found my faith and learned joy again. I have learned that the little things in real life matter more than the big things in an imaginary one.
These are all great things and I managed to do it despite the hurt and pain that I went through.
I would not have accomplished this at all if I was still with her and she was unwilling to put any work into the relationship.
So, funny story about this.
(Disclaimer: this may make no sense to you if you are not aware of this hobby known as the S.C.A.
I fight in the SCA and a couple of weeks ago I got an award for fighting. I would not have received that award if it was not for A. Not that I wouldn’t have been nominated, but that I would not have physically received the award.
I was at an event and I was on the Queens guard (oh, that’s another thing as she had kept me off of it before) I was waiting for court after fighting and knew that court was scheduled for after fighting. This should have given me about an hour by my time table. I decided to start walking over towards the battlefield and ran into a friend of mine. He was heading down to a camp so that he could show someone a customer project that we had just completed (another thing I would not have had time for). I said I would go with him and as I was waiting for him to finish his conversation, A came around the corner. I have been avoiding her because I have no reason to spend time around her so I walked away, as I went by the battlefield royal pavilion, I saw that there was a court going on that was not as scheduled. I jumped in and did my duty guarding the queen which means basically standing there. They called up someone to receive an award for the Order of the silver Tiger. It’s a new award and a very exciting group. The next person they called was me.
If it hadn’t been for A, I would never have been there.
Sometimes the universe points things out in a direct giant flashing billboard kind of way.
Oh I also made the un-belts team which is a group of the top non knighted fighters in the East kingdom. I would never have been able to accomplish that either being with her.
Ok, the weirdness of those last few paragraphs is over. And now we can resume.
I loved our hobby but I always put the family first. That was what was most important to me. I can now enjoy it at my own pace and honestly, it’s not that I care less about it, but that I see it differently. I will accomplish my goals in my own time and in my own way. I will be the best at what I can be and be the best person who I am. I will not compromise in this. I know that I will get there for the right reasons in my own way.
One of the big things since that event? I am sleeping in the middle of the bed. It’s not a big deal maybe, but for the past year, I have slept in the same spot on the edge of the bed. I have reclaimed my space.
A very good friend of mine said that sometimes the only way out is through. I made a conscious decision to do this and I am glad I did. I am glad that many of you took the journey with me. I think that we all learned a lot. I think that the main thing is that it is amazing to see what you can accomplish when you are willing to put in the work.
So, do the work. If you are in an abusive relationship, get the help you need. It’s not going to be easy and it is going to suck a lot. I almost didn’t survive it. I never want to go through this again and I have worked hard so that I don’t have to.
If I can do it, so can you.
This is my final post in this blog. It is the end of this stage of the journey. It isn’t over yet by a long shot, but I came through it better than when I started.
Be an active participant in your own recovery.