Wow. Living with my verbally abusive and physically threatening husband, I have kind of lost grips on reality. Only very close friends and a few family members know my full story of what is going on. And sometimes, his behavior, I start to assume that I am seeing things as worse than they really are. I do view everything he does through this negative lens.
Last night, my 13yo asked me to comfort her because she was overwhelmed with anxiety. She’s afraid there are people hiding in our house. Like she thinks there might be someone behind the couch, in the closet, under her bed. Logically, this is laughable because we are home 24/7, we have cameras on the doors, what would these hiders eat? But fear is not logical. So we went into her fear.
We laughed a little bit about how our house would be a terrible place to hide and talked about how hard it would be to hide here because we are all home all the time. Then her thoughts jumped to her dad making her give him a hug goodnight after she told him she didn’t want to kiss him. And in that embrace, he asked her, “Am I a good dad?” Her gut was to say. “no,” but she doesn’t want to upset him so she said, “sure.” And he released her. But then, my poor sweet child, was upset with herself for saying something that she didn’t want to say. He is making her betray herself.
And then we talked again about her anxiety. And how never being on solid ground with H, we never know how anything we do will be taken. It will either be accepted or loudly rejected but there is no way to predict which way he will go. She is tiptoeing around all day trying to not make him mad. She plans her meals around when she sees he has left the house because that is how strong her desire to avoid awkward and self-betraying conversations is.
For a long time, I thought he was a good dad. Even up until maybe a few months ago, I would have said, he’s a good dad. But that’s a lie and the kids were aware of it long before I was. He does the same things to them that he does to me. Asks an opinion and then attacks your opinion. With things as ridiculous as what kind of ketchup you like. Disagreeing is not allowed.
What has this taught my kids, it has taught them that to dad, there is a wrong answer to every question. And just like me what they have learned to do to cope is to just stop speaking to him. He doesn’t care what we think, he only wants us to confirm what he thinks.
I was lying to myself, or I was unaware, for so long of the damage he is doing to them. I thought, it was fine except for the way he treats me but the way he treats me is the only way he knows how to interact with people. He doesn’t have empathy in relationships, he just wants control and coerced respect.
13yo agreed last night that when we are allowed outside again, that she would go see a therapist. I just hope the damage is not too far gone. I hope that having two separate houses will at least give her one place of refuge. I secretly hope that when he sees it isn’t all fun and praise for him with the kids that he will lose interest in seeing them so much.
My poor babies. I feel completely responsible for this. I know better now and I am doing what I can to get myself and them some space from this dementor.
I just hope it is enough.
They are wise. They have good hearts. I just need to keep enforcing that they should trust their visceral reactions and not ignore them. Their feelings matter. Their opinions matter. How they feel matters.
He is such a psychopath.