No, not the rainbow kind... I'm coming out from shame. From the shame that an abuser manipulatively uses to keep his (or her) victim quiet. For nearly 3 years I have been healing through whispers, sharing pieces of my story with those who have also been through it, or those whom I trust implicitly because of the emotional safety that they create with their presence. And only a little, tiny bit more with a group of conscious creators that I like to call, "Passionistas."
We have been divorced for over a year; separated for nearly 3. He periodically goes on text tangents (because he is unable to speak to me in person without losing his.. temper) about how I should look up the definition of shame; that I am shame; that I should be ashamed. He wrote recently, "Shame is all over you. Shame is what you are." My goodness, I am only just now realizing that he - my abuser, my husband for 15-years and the father of my 3 children - is right.
He is right, after all. I am ashamed. I am.
I am ashamed to have allowed him to shame me. I am ashamed of the hate for him that boils up inside of me when I work so hard to find some aspect of love for him for my childrens' sake and for my own soul. I am ashamed for staying silent for so long. I am ashamed for believing him when he says that it's me. That I am the crazy one. That I have made it (the verbal, emotional abuse) all up in my mind to justify my behavior. I am ashamed for the times that I believed... believe... him.
Part of what keeps us quiet is that we... let me try that again. After a deep breath... part of what keeps me... no, what has kept me quiet, is the shameful belief that maybe they are the ones telling the true story. They are so convincing. He is so convincing. He is so sure that I am the one who has done all of the wrong that I have believed it, too. Even after two years out from under his thumb, a few sessions together in co-parenting counseling late last year had me questioning myself again. Maybe I was the one making up the story! Maybe he is perfectly fine (mentally intact) and I am the one living in an alternate reality!
And fear. Fear for the repercussions of sharing my story. I don't know if he visits my website. I don't know if he looks at what can be seen publicly on my Social Media. I very rarely share anything directly about him, except in private conversations with my closest friends. I don't want his anger to impact my children more than it already does. And I don't want anymore irrelevant, spiteful texts from him!
And fear. Fear that the people who I love and who I believe love me won't believe me. That they'll say because he only hit me once or twice (and I hit him back) that it wasn't, and isn't, abuse. Verbal abuse doesn't count. Silent treatment for days at a time doesn't count. Angry outbursts and broken dishes don't count. Tiny, little (emotional) cuts don't count.
Yes, they do.
When I first told someone close to me that I was thinking of leaving my husband, she told me to "sex him up." That they're always happier when they're getting some. I was devastated. I provided that service for 15 years. It rarely made a difference in the level of alcohol he consumed or the number of insults he spit out. Apparently, I'm just too sensitive.
And No. I am not.
I am, however, someone who appreciates peace and calm and moderation. All of my life I've been a peacemaker. That, too, has kept me quiet. And no more. I can't. It is my responsibility to show others that they are not alone. That this happens. That it is real. That it is devastatingly painful and impacts the victim in ways someone who hasn't been through it can't even imagine. In ways that those of us who have been through it can hardly admit.
So, I am coming out today. For myself. And for you. Verbal-emotional abuse is real. It is impactful. It happens all of the time and we do not deserve it. I do not deserve it. You do not deserve it. And like I did, you can find a way to leave, whatever it takes. What it really takes is simply courage. The courage to leave.