How You Became the Other Woman

Nice to know that what happened to me is a recognizable pattern. I guess I have company!

Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

The Other Woman ~ Woman Waiting

I can’t count the number of women I’ve interacted with who started out engaged to or married to a Narcissist and then, through a turn of events, became the “Other Woman”.

While the infidelity itself is unfair, the really sad part is that when this happens to each woman, she feels extremely isolated because she thinks she’s the only one “crazy” enough to accept this arrangement.  What she doesn’t realize is that this is very common amongst women who are involved in an abusive relationship with a Narcissist.  In fact, it’s one of the biggest indicators of the depth of pathological brainwashing the Narcissist is capable of.

Logically, who would agree to allow their partner to have a primary lover outside of the relationship, and further, who only comes around when he’s bored or his main partner is on her period?

Shocking, yes?  If you haven’t been…

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Giving Back

I have prepared a basic statement for my local DV group on women like myself, and our particular peculiarities, in order to adequately prepare the local DV shelter and staff for what I hope is coming. What I hope is coming, is more women like me, getting out of their abusive homes. My particular minority population has not entered my area en force yet. There is one local family, and another was spotted house shopping a half hour north of here. I am on call, by the local group, for when it happens.

I had a request from a doctor to contact a woman of the local majority culture who will not leave her abuser. I have been texting her, when she is able to sneak it without fear of being caught. About two texts per day, not a lot of freedom, there, that I can discern. Her husband is a nightmarish piece of work. Like many abusers, he also targets children, in the guise of “teaching” or “hardening” them. She has not mentioned any formal military or law enforcement training on his part, however, and that is a good thing. If he cannot out-strategize the sheriff and the local DV group, everyone is safer. She has professionals telling her to leave, I have no crisis training at all, and I might be a last resort. 

Between the risk to her, and the empathy I feel, it is stressful. It brings up memories, visceral memories where I can taste the fear and feel the breath of the hunter. But still. There is nothing I would rather be doing more than this. It is completely worth it.

 

Propanolol, Medicating PTSD

What can happen to your physical self, when it undergoes repetitive stress, is that your stress hormones begin to overreact. If you suffer from this, and feel even a little bit of frustration, your cortisol can shoot up inappropriately, causing your adrenaline to kick in, and give you that flight or fight panic.

This happens without any consent from you. It is a biological reaction, independent of you, meant to preserve your very life. 

It means that you cannot deal with stress effectively. Repeated rushes of adrenaline and cortisol have a damaging effect on your memory, your heart, your mental health, your coping skills, your parenting, your life. Your entire life is affected by this.

I complained about this since I left my abuser. I did not want to feel flight or fight panics over every little thing. I did not want to get overwhelmed by the very normal, sedate life I now have, and have those reactions impair my ability to live, normally.

After a year of asking my doctor, my advocate, my therapist, everyone involved with my care, it was my son’s psychologist who told me about propanolol, .

I do not like anti-anxiety medicine, I do not want to get on the cycle of anti-depressants and psychiatric medications. Propanolol is not one of those. It is a beta-blocker, whatever that means. It is used for hypertension, safely, since the fifties or sixties. It keeps your heart rate from accelerating, it prevents the adrenaline from flooding you.

It works. My side effects are : nothing. Not even dizziness. I have the same moods, I get angry, still. But I don’t lose it. I don’t panic, get overwhelmed. I got very stressed out last Friday. I had an incident involving my identification (a recent name change means that not all my documents reflect my legal name), and the embarrassment pushed my stress level up so far, that I did not feel better until the next evening. I wonder, if I had taken my afternoon dose, how much different it would have been.

It’s almost a miracle.

Diagnosis

Last year, when I was relocated to this town, I was still terrified. I had been free for five months. I could barely speak to strangers, but being silent much of the time did not stop me from accessing resources for myself and the children immediately.

After I set up the children with everything, I got myself a regular doctor and began therapy outside of victim’s support groups. This involved psychological testing, and I took two long tests that were supposed to assess my mental health, or the absence of it.

The therapist and the interning psychologist tested me, gathered my background information, and then went over the results with me. I was crazy. I was, since birth, mentally ill. I needed intensive dialectic therapy to gain normalcy.

I asked them why all the facts of my background were wrong. Why the diagnosis was worded in such a way, that my life was a “claim” and not a verifiable and documented history with a legal trail? No problem, they said. It does not change anything, you need help.

I asked how I was able to hold a job, and excel at each position, since the age of eleven, if I were so mentally ill? Many people maintain well, your manifestation is mild, they told me. You still need therapy, you are fragile. Your life history shows how mentally ill you are.

I cried. I went home and I wrote a rebuttal to this diagnosis that got my personal history twisted beyond recognition, and made me out a liar. It took me three months to stop feeling depressed by it, and another three to shake it off and stop worrying about it at all.

Yesterday my new therapist went over those test results, and that false history with her supervisor. They threw out the history, it was so mangled, and the test results actually do not show mental illness at all. Just PTSD. Of course. They want the rebuttal I wrote initially, to correct the file with.

I am lucky. It took a year to get the correct diagnosis, and less than six months for my son to be diagnosed with the same. Some people are misdiagnosed for years and years, and not treated for what ails them.

Abusers are Monsters : Behind Closed Doors 11/3/13

I see through a search that he is doing better than when we left. How does someone behave like a monster in their personal life, terrifying families, and then maintain an acceptable presence in the community? I don’t understand how anyone can trust him. I am still afraid.

The Stockholm syndrome symptoms are fading. Someone found me. I mean, someone found me to be interesting, in the romantic sense. Getting romantic overtures from a safe person helps with getting and maintaining distance.

Now I have to figure out how to relate to a man who is not an abuser. So far it is tricky.

Fear of Publication 10/14/13

I belong to one forum, have two blogs, and one FB account.

I post as much as I can on the forum, but for every post, there is one I decided not to post. Only one in ten FB posts make it to my wall, and it’s all just news bites, anyway.

Is it fear? Social anxiety?

How did I go from being an outspoken feminazi kid to an adult woman who is so petrified of making mistakes or giving offense, that I cannot even post what I think?

Am I this afraid he will find me?

Isn’t the net a huge, ever expanding, unfathomable and bottomless universe? Surely there is somewhere in this vast space where I can be myself and be unafraid. Where I am safe.

How can I ever gain support for myself, or show support for my fellow human creatures, if I am too afraid to participate fully in any community?

What am I modeling for my children?

Escape Plans 10/13/13

I realized at work the other day, while planning, for the umpteenth time, my escape from there, that I was doing so. If I am in a space for more than a half hour, I end up planning how to escape from it. The first factor is always how to evacuate or get the people inside into shelter. The second factor is a variable. Is the Perpetrator armed or not? I never get past this at work. I always get my initial reaction down based on armed or unarmed, but then I have to deal with evacuation and I can’t go further. The offices are laid out so badly, there is no inner door, too many scattered out too far. I can’t decide which way to go, who to warn, whether they should go out the back and become targets in the empty space, or hide.

The therapist tells me to use the phone or get myself out. Because no one is coming for the evacuees. So why try to protect them? They don’t need protecting, they are not in danger.

Why am I still planning escapes? When is this going to end? Can’t my mind wind down and relax, ever?

Language 9/23/13

My use of foreign language is absurd. I get phrases stuck in my head, and it seems they actually replace the English. If relaxed and answering quickly, I cannot say “I don’t know”. The English just doesn’t come out at all, I say it in another language instead.

I am fluent in nothing but English. I can probably last exactly three minutes or less in three other languages. Some things, especially religious phrases, do not translate directly into English and I cannot find any other way to express the same meaning. That’s understandable, if the person you are speaking to understands the language you use to say it. But there is no one I know anymore who knows what I am trying to say. When I am alone in the car I talk to myself in other languages, like I am completely unhinged.

I miss hearing people greet me in a couple different languages. I miss it so much, I would say I am homesick for it. But English is my native tongue. Why must I have this ridiculous longing for a language or a culture I willingly and deliberately walked away from? When I see people who would understand me, I actually go the other way, to force myself to resist the temptation of speaking with them in another tongue.

I moved into an apartment with just myself and the children, and it took less than a month for me to fall back into a pidgin English. Why in the world would I want to leave out my adverbs, and include foreign nouns, with three kids who are so young that they can’t yet read? Don’t they need to hear proper language and structure to develop their own communication skills? I feel like kicking myself. I put a stop to that one.

Is fifteen years so long that I can’t step back into full English? What is wrong with me that I chose to surround myself with people who couldn’t understand me for so long?

Every time I get into high stress, when one child is screaming and the other has just announced the mess they made, and the last child is starting to cry because I can’t tie their shoes as fast as they want me to, I melt down completely and then I have no English at all. None. Rapidfire, loud, aggressively foreign. The same words, the same language, every time. If I could stop using it, maybe I would never, ever, lose my temper. If I mention to the children that my English is going, they mind, and if I say it in a foreign language, they mind immediately.

The kids have asked me to stop. They have asked for all English, all the time. I have tried. I have gotten better. I have forgotten words that I used to use every day. But I want it fixed, ima.

Music like MGMT 9/22/13

The past few years I have been obsessed with music. Like a teenager. It started when I was still there, I would watch a world music show on international satellite. Lenka, fun Japanese bands in furry costumes, plenty of stuff in English. Of course, he wasn’t home. The children loved it. Later, when we no longer had satellite channels in English, I would pull up things on YouTube by typing in key words like “kids”, “puppies” and the like. This yielded Section Kuchikaschtli and Swedish House Mafia. “Balloons” brought me Teegan and Sara’s version of “Closer”. Oh! The Gummy Bear songs. Fun stuff.

After we left, it was eighteen months before we had YouTube again. The kids were so excited to find all their old favorites. It is amazing that a four year old can remember things so well from a year and a half before. No wonder he has PTSD.

Now the baby “works” at preschool for her time on YouTube. She dumps out boxes of toys, replaces them immediately, and says “Look, look at me, tell my Mommy I clean up for Lenka!” They always tell me, it’s so cute, they can’t forget. She sits so happily in her little pink papazan chair later at home, watching Lenka and ordering us to click on which one should come next.

We are so lucky. To live in a country where the police and the courts care about our safety, the safety of women and children. Where we are not considered to be the property of a man. To be able to see the dreams depicted in the videos of Empire of the Sun, to dream ourselves for a future and then to find it. I am a fan of art now, because it truly lifted me when nothing else could. It reminded me to be alive, to live, to create a future for my children where they could discover and see fantastic things. When everything felt dead to me, and I was trying tamp down my inner self for my very survival, music lived.

Now, when fear strangles my sleep and leaves me restless, I find new songs, new artists, or old ones that remind me of who I was before him. An hour, and I can sleep. It’s magic.

A heartfelt thank you to artists, and to the government that protects their freedoms and mine.  We have a way to go, but it’s better than some.

Fear 9/21/13

Fear kept me from writing for a long time. I am still afraid. What if he finds me? What if he uses this against me? What if the kids one day find this, and are offended I kept so much from them? Fear is wearing on me. It rubs against me, rubs me out, erases me. Fear is defining me, ghosting me. He is still defining me. How happy he would be, how self-righteous he would feel, how justified. I am afraid to admit my fear. I want to dismiss it. I want to recite statistics on how many others feel as I feel, how many others there are like me, with the same experiences. Those others who are fine, safe, well. I want to remind myself that less than ten percent of fears ever materialize. But when do you relax your vigilance? When do you finally realize you are safe? Isn’t that how you err? Through confidence? Doesn’t fear keep you sharp, aware, safe? If you are not running, are you not then still enough for focus, and thus, a target?