I believe in telling the self the brutal, honest truth. I am a recovered abuser. I am a woman. To understand this journey, and the dynamics of my intimate relationship, I have to give some history of my own past. My mother emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me. I grew up watching the only female role model I had emotionally abuse my dad. I thought this was normal. In conjunction with this modeling of a relationship, my mother always taught me that any man who asserts his rights to happiness and peace is a domineering abuser. This was my life’s truth until I was about 20. Why until then, and not further? A little more history.
When I was 17, I moved across the country to go live with my soul mate. We had met two and a half years previously, and he is four years older than I. The reason we call each other soul mates isn’t because we haven’t had trials and tribulations. Our life hasn’t been all peachy. The reason we call each other soul mates is because the moment we met, we both knew that we would spend the rest of our lives together. If we had known how painful the years between 1995 and 1998 were going to be, we probably both would have run from each other. As I understand it now, I was attracted to his quiet authoritative presence. He made me feel safe and protected. He has confided in me that he could see that I was a beautiful soul trapped behind very thick walls and that something was very wrong in my life.
So why were those three years hell? I was abusive to this wonderful man. I emasculated him to the point of constant fear of me. This knowledge makes me sick to my stomach. How could I have done that to him? How could I have taken someone so strong and completely destroyed him? He let this endless rage and patterning of our relationship continue for two years. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t see that I was the problem. After he became totally unresponsive to me, I went out and purchased a journal to write down what I perceived his imperfections were. Every last one of them. He soon started to read my entries, and I thought this was good. This way he could see that it was important that he change, because I had bothered to write down all of his shortcomings. After a while of doing this, he asked me why I only wrote negative stuff in that book. So, I began writing positive stuff. There were very few entries. After a while a sort of quiet tension settled over our home. This tension melted away at a very distinct time. He had recognized the pattern of abuse, and found the cycle.
While I was in the “everything is wonderful” phase, he handed me that journal and asked me to read it all the way through. When I was done, I was still not ashamed of what I had done to him. He asked me very pointedly and quietly how I would feel if I had spent three years hearing and reading those awful things directed at me. I thought about it and truthfully told him that it would break my heart and I would not trust that person. That it was abuse.
I have to admit, after three years of that kind of treatment, confronting me was very brave. We both worked on my attitudes and behaviors toward him and our relationship. We learned how to argue constructively and how to come to a resolution at the end of the conflict. He was still very afraid of me. Not in the sense of abusive behavior anymore, but in the sense that he was very afraid of my disapproval, fearing the loss of love. I didn’t understand, I didn’t see it.
About a year after we had been married, he told me a secret that could and would have ruined most relationships. When he told me this secret he thought he had already lost me, so there wasn’t much more damage he could do to himself by telling me. The secret itself isn’t important; what is important is that because of the keeping of this secret, there was no trust and we were not advancing into a truly happy existence together. I understood the psychology behind this type of secret, how it eats away at a relationship.
Of all the possible reactions he imagined, he did not even give himself the possibility of my accepting this revealed thing. Because I reacted in a way he did not expect, he was still unsure of our relationship, and didn’t trust that I meant what I had said. It has taken years of repeated assurances that I found this secret to be ok and I truly did not have a problem with it. Once he realized this, more desires came out. Not just from him, but from myself. We began to communicate wants and needs that we both thought the other would be repulsed by. This built more trust between us.
Over the last couple of years we both have expressed a desire for him to be more dominant. We didn’t know how to get there though. The only place he felt safe expressing dominance was in the erotic realm. This sated a need we both had.
Over the past year, he has been on the other side of the world (physically, not emotionally). I have had the opportunity to really examine my husband, our relationship, and myself. The really great thing about this necessary arrangement is that communications have opened up, widened. The dam has been opened. I began to express to him a need for more of his control in my life. But how to give that control when I would not willingly submit to it? I started reading everything about BDSM I could get my hands on. We talked about the aspects of D/s. Parts of it bothered both of us, but what was attractive was the flow of power. I continued reading and searching the web for an acceptable answer. Somehow I ended up here, at Taken in Hand. I read everything. I instinctively understood the concepts and feelings of others here. So I sent the link to this site to my husband. The next time we talked we both had questions to ask each other; we talked about the difference in erotic and punishment spankings, how to distinguish between the two; we talked about consenting to non-consensual punishment – we talked over every aspect we could think of.
He finally told me that a self-destructive behavior that I have been engaging in has been hurting him deeply and I agreed immediately to begin giving him control over this area. As we are currently in a forced long-distance relationship, we decided what to do now to begin the adjustment. I report every night on this. It hasn’t been easy, but I learned a very long time ago not to lie to him. I am more afraid of disappointing him than of any punishment he could devise. After a few weeks of this constant accountability to him, he confided that since I surrendered in this one area, he has felt the anger at watching the situation slip away. He no longer asks himself what he is doing wrong. He feels empowered. He asked me if there were other areas I needed his help in. I told him there were other areas I did need help in. I told him there were probably areas I didn’t know I needed help in. I asked him to really examine his feelings on my behaviors and habits, and that anywhere he felt powerless was an area that I needed help.
I have come to realize that just because I think everything is well, doesn’t mean he thinks everything is ok. I have come to see how this can continually undermine a relationship, eating at the foundations, while everything else is still strong and in place. I have come to realize he doesn’t want to completely control every little aspect of my life, but he does want me to be a better person, a person who will be happy and fulfilled in life, a person who won’t let literal self-destruction bring her to an early end.
I want him to soar with joy, happiness, peace and the sense of power. I had been asking him to fix things without giving him the tools that would best accomplish the task. We are both excited and even a little bit scared at this new direction. I have had a sense of peace settle over me. I have noticed in my husband’s writings that he has come to use the passive voice less and less. I can now recognize when something is truly a request, or a command phrased as a request.
This post vividly illustrates what frequently manifests itself as a sowing of wild oats out of season. Instead of being in her late teens, the woman is in her twenties and, as was the case Nicole described, the husband is bewildered when the woman he loves acts out like a self-absorbed and thoroughly spoiled teenager.
So far as I can tell, as Amber suggests, versions of this scenario have broken up more marriages and destroyed more relationships than can be told in a lifetime. In cases where the man is not patient, it has also led to violence that destroyed what little there was left of whatever love their once was.
For both men and women, this is a story worth remembering because both its themes and resolution are fairly common - filling the world with recriminations and regrets.
I have been mulling over the comments for a few days, and over the story I shared. One of the common things talked about in other posts by a number of women is about testing the relationship. I was not doing this. The best analogy I can give is that of an abusive dog owner. The dog owner constantly yells at the dog, and kicks the dog, and yes, maybe even whips the poor animal. After a time the dog will become feral and not only at some point snap and attack the owner, but also attack *any* human it comes in contact with. Now, as we know, sometimes the dog, when removed from the abusive owner, and shown love and patience over a period of time, will heal. Sometimes no matter how much patience and love is shown, the dog won't or can't heal and will still be considered feral.
Now imagine the dog owner being my mother, me the dog, and the new owner showing love and patience being my husband. This is the best analogy I can give to show my mental and emotional state for those three years.
Also, I have to point out that I *was* a teenager at that particular time. I was between the ages of 17 to 20. I feel blessed to have learned those lessons young. I have noticed that a few others here are quite a bit older than my husband and myself, and this leaves me feeling blessed that we learned these lessons so early in our lives.
Another side note on something I have noticed with females in my own age bracket (20's). The exchange would go like this:
"Hey, Nicole, ya wanna go out and party Saturday night?"
"I'll have to ask my husband before I can give you an answer."
"What?! You have to get *permission* to go out?"
"You know, Nicole, you shouldn't let a man run your life. You should do what you want to do."
"Yeah, so, I'll give you a call Friday to let you know if I can go out with you."
My husband has had similar conversations with co-workers who wanted to have him join them for an after work drink.
What I find amazing and what I don't understand is how showing consideration for your significant other is seen as controlling behavior. This leaves me wanting to scream and tear my hair out because I just want to tell these people that if they did this, they might also have a loving and stable relationship.
I guess this mindset that we have has led us to not have friends our own age. All of our friends are over the age of 45.
On a more personal note
It will be a few months before I can write again or check posts and comments on this wonderful site. We are relocating to Europe in a couple of weeks.
Everyone have a wonderful time and thank you for your insights!