I think one of the biggest dangers of being raised with emotional and mental abuse is the way it alters your perceptions, and I don’t feel this is addressed often enough (and especially in cases where the child grows up only to get married too young and perpetuate the cycle). In particular with those whose coping mechanism is to shelter those around them and play mediator/peacemaker- be perfectionistic people pleasers. You are molded during your entire youth that someone else is always right, even though there is no logic or consistency. You don’t know what the red flags are- you can see the blatantly obvious but usually miss the subtle indicators that are warnings to people who actually grew up around normal people with decent parents. Control and sheltering usually go hand in hand with this type of abuse- that leaves no comparisons to shape your understanding.
Niceness is mistaken for kindness. Positive attention seems like a gift to the person whose inner voice constantly tells them they are worthless, compliments are honey on the snare. Situations reframed gently at first, seem off, but hey it’s pretty well established you can’t trust your own mind at least this person has it together. Slowly the rationalization gets wilder and the niceness contingent on your decisions and how well you conform. Even then, they convince you you’re viewing this wrong. “These criticisms aren’t meant to hurt you- I’d never want to hurt you I love you.” “You need to stop wearing your heart on your sleeve.” “I never said you couldn’t do that, I thought we agreed (after bullying into letting go of something yet again)” “You just need have a realistic view of yourself, this is for your own good.” “You’re pretty of course but you look so much better wearing x over y, with this makeup, with this hair. Well your appearance really should be about me, it’s for me, I married you.” “You’re so much more attractive doing housework.” “You need to be in here by me. I don’t understand why you want to work in another room/you should pick better times for housework/you should pick better times for writing/why don’t you want to be around me all day constantly I feel hurt.” “You don’t need friends that’s what I’m for.”
They’ll tell you, at every job how they’re the smartest and best and everyone is a moron- but those “morons” moved up, did better, aren’t struggling jumping job to job. Eventually you see the pattern- they aren’t who they say.
But even deep into the pain, finally telling yourself it’s not me, it can’t be me, the cycles of ups and downs are so damn confusing. There’s a glimpse of who I thought they were. Here’s more cruel words. But a hug “I’d never hurt you on purpose, surely you understand I’m sexually frustrated because of you, because you don’t initiate enough sex, I’m not truly angry.” “All the kids problems are your fault.” “Well I shouldn’t have to clean the house it’s your job so yeah I’m going to be pissed if I have to step in.” “I’m not saying no I just don’t want you to do it but you need to make up your mind (and agree with me).” “What do you mean you shouldn’t lift the trash? I thought diastasis recti was normal? It’s just your abs splitting but that’s common. Oh see you admit it is. But it’s painful for you? Your doctor said it usually isn’t you’re probably just afraid, it’s in your head. Well your doctor already told you pregnancy isn’t a sickness. I work all day. I shouldn’t have to come home and empty the trash too, you need to be smarter and figure out a way to lift the bag without hurting yourself.”
“No, no, I do get that you’re supposedly exhausted from childbirth but I don’t think you need rest. Seriously what were you doing in the hospital? Resting while nurses took care of you, but I had to take care of two kids nonstop and you just had a baby that barely needs anything. What you actually need is to sit here with me. You already said you’re much better than you were with the first you’re fine to clean up this is my time off.”
Careful requests to refrain from saying hurtful things are met with debates over why you have no right to be offended it upset instead of viewing your thoughts and emotions as equally valid. Their feelings are always valid though, and you should only say uplifting things.
And 10 years later you sit there wondering how your life became everything you were afraid of, everything you never wanted, all those dreams and goals you had were slowly strangled. Your doctor asks how your marriage is, could it be a factor in your depression? You need friends. You need hobbies. You should get out of the house.
Growing up with abuses sets you up with a strange nuance of naivete, just ready to be exploited. By the time you learn enough it’s often too late. And from the outside looking in, he’s just Mr. Wonderful and you’re the strangely reserved wife, it must be rough on someone so friendly and likeable. You must be the reason you guys don’t get out, poor guy.
No support network, no real roots-, wondering if there is a real future, if you really can still have something akin to happiness. Or is that just another misdirection? Is it better to stay or go? How do I go? But, how do I stay?
Grow up, be complete first, and never compromise on your dreams. The people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones who do.
Stop viewing relationships as something you need to be complete.
You are complete. Find yourself first. Work on and for yourself first. See different cultures, experience life on your own. Heal.