Fuel to Fire: deluge on verbal abuse

I believe this post needs trigger warnings for domestic violence and verbal abuse.

I was involved in a relationship for three or so years that could be described as classic verbal abuse and probably marital rape. I am always afraid to talk about my experience because I’m afraid it will piss my ex off again and he’ll start a smear campaign against me. Every book I ever write will get horrible reviews from he and his friends who will descend upon me like a pack of jackals. Everyone will believe him and what he says about me. All the work I have done to bring myself up and make a good name for myself will be besmirched by half truths and lies. Not only that, he’ll start a private message campaign to email bomb me with all the terrible things he can think to say to me. If it’s like the last one, he will blame it on his wife or girlfriend, saying she’s the one who said it to me.

A friend of mine posted this video to Youtube. I tried to leave them just a simple little note, which is the first paragraph. And then the anxiety takes over and it becomes a deluge. I didn’t stop. I let it all roll out. Then I posted it here.

If you are at all triggered by verbal abuse, please do not watch this video. I think that’s what happened to me. I thought I could handle it. I couldn’t. Too many memories came flooding back.

This doesn’t even go into the day in and day out wearing down they do on you. You only get one small piece of the puzzle. You don’t get the condescension when you ask a simple question. You don’t get the feeling of being stupid and not knowing anything. You don’t get the jumping at small things. You don’t see what happens to her once everyone goes home. “Why did you do that? Why did you have to change your clothes? What’s wrong with the dress I picked out for you? What, am I not good enough for you anymore? Well? What’s wrong? Why aren’t you answering me? ANSWER ME!”

I know what happens after the camera cuts off. I’ve been there. I’ve lived it. And if I could say something to anyone who hasn’t been there… the bitch in the kitchen was just ADDING TO THE FIRE. “Get over yourself.”

FUCK YOU. YOU DON’T KNOW. You don’t LIVE WITH THIS EVERY FUCKING MINUTE OF EVERY FUCKING DAY. But we won’t say that, either. Because we can’t. Every word of standing up for ourselves against someone else’s wishes is DROWNED IN OUR THROATS because we don’t want to have to argue our case against our significant other. They’ll just turn it around on us. And the worst part? The fucking abuser won’t see anything wrong. They’re just asserting themselves. They’re just making sense of their household. They’re just making their lives ordered and sensible and HOW could I NOT SEE THAT? How can I not see how fucking difficult I make their life day in and day out every time they have to talk to me about these things. “No, I don’t expect you to read my mind!”

And under the words is the underlying current of “you’re so fucking stupid, why would you even fucking think that?” Every. Day. Of. My. LIFE. For three? Four years? And they don’t show how it starts, either. How it’s just one thing they don’t like about you. And so you change it to make their life easier because they would do it for you, right? And then it’s just one more thing. And then its anything that you find pleasure or joy in. Why do you do that? You’re doing nothing but make a mess everywhere. Or, worse, he throws a fucking tantrum and chucks all your shit in a bag and throws it out on the back porch because it’s where he wants to sit. Then only sits there for about five minutes before going back over onto the sofa and turning the channel on what you were watching.

That was the first thing I noticed. He walked in the door and turned off her music that she was listening to because he didn’t want to listen to it. She should have no desires that don’t reflect his wants, wishes and desires. He is the only important thing. His feelings, his wishes, his wants and desires come first, second and last because at the end of the day, he is the only person who matters.

I see it in her. She wants to scream “I AM A REAL FUCKING PERSON AND I HAVE WANTS AND DESIRES AND SOMETIMES I JUST WANT A PLACE OF MY OWN TO BE AS MESSY AS I WANT WITHOUT YOU COMING IN AND FUCKING WITH IT”, but she can’t say that. I saw it in her face when he was criticizing her dress. She wanted to wear it because she likes it. Because she wants to look nice. Because it’s her anniversary and she wants to look nice. She’s not dressing up for his friends. She was probably dressing up for him. And under it, dressing up for her. Ohgod. If she said it, though, he would come down on her with the condescending tone and the little nitpicking about her details and the way it interferes with what HE wants to do.

Why is the house always such a fucking mess? Why is there never food on the table? Why don’t you do anything around here? I don’t make the mess. I don’t have to clean it up. You’re the one who always makes all the mess. Why should I have to clean up after other people?

Nevermind I cleaned up after him. And me. And I really didn’t make that many messes.

Now every time I leave something on the table, I’m worried someone is going to have a fucking hissy fit. I’m going to get the whole “Why the fuck is this STILL OUT HERE? You should have cleaned it up DAYS ago.” I’m worried I’m going to have to dance on eggshells because someone loses their shit because I’m sitting at the computer writing instead of cleaning the house. I’m worried when I go back for something, it won’t be there because someone has already “taken care of it” and it’s in the trash or boxed up somewhere or who knows what else.

I get sick to my stomach every time someone raises their voice near me. I want to run and hide and cry. I don’t want to hear how big of a fucking failure I am at EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE. I don’t want to hear how the things in my life that bring me pleasure are an inconvenience to someone else. I don’t want to hear that I’m in the way. I don’t want to have to bend my will and my being to someone else anymore. But that fear is there and it will NEVER GO AWAY. I will ALWAYS FEAR. I will ALWAYS change myself to fit other people to avoid conflict because I have been molded into this fearful thing. It’s why I’m afraid to have emotions. I was being “emotional” and “ridiculous” because I was upset at things he said. He didn’t say anything to me. I’m just taking it the wrong way. How can I take what he said to be anything other than just a comment? It wasn’t his problem I was crying because he was yelling at me. He wasn’t even raising his voice, so how was he yelling at me? “You have to RAISE YOUR VOICE LIKE THIS TO BE YELLING! WAS I YELLING? WAS I? NOW I’M YELLING! YOU DON’T LIKE THAT, DO YOU?!”

And the line that really hurt me the most? I lost a string of jobs, one after the other, most because he gave me a pager. I had to call him every time it went off. If I didn’t call, he thought I wasn’t at work. Nevermind I couldn’t call until I was on break because I was on machines I literally could not stop running until the batch was done. I lost the most recent job because I wasn’t good at pushing for water surveys on the phone as a telemarketer. When I told him I lost the job, he said to me: “Maybe if you could keep a job, this wouldn’t keep happening!”

They make you so dizzy and crazy you can’t think in a straight line anymore because they get mad at you for one thing and then turn around and say “No, you know what, that’s cool.”

Now wait a fucking minute. You said three months ago that you didn’t want me talking to Nikki anymore. Now it’s okay that I’m talking to her again? And then a month later he blows his fucking stack because I’m talking to Nikki.

OMG I’M FOLLOWING YOUR FUCKING RULES AS YOU FUCKING LAID THEM OUT, YOU CRAZY ASSHOLE, AND NOW YOU’RE ON MY ASS ABOUT THIS AGAIN???

Or it wouldn’t be about that thing. He’s moved on to something ELSE that his world just CAN’T MOVE ON without ME CHANGING about MYSELF to make him more comfortable.

And the thing is… they make you think that everything about their request is reasonable. They make you think that they’re just making you a better person because they love you. They’re shaping you to be better. And your friends do that all the time, right? And your friends DO do that all the time. “Get over yourself. What dress did you really want to wear tonight?”

I wanted to wear the dress that wouldn’t piss him off. I don’t want everyone pissed off at me. He’s always pissed off at me all the time. I just want to do whatever won’t cause him to talk to me like that anymore. If I can just learn the pattern, I can fall into shadows and just be there in the right place at the right time and he won’t have to say mean things to me anymore. And it’s not so much what they say as how and when they say it. I don’t know if people who haven’t lived through it will really grasp what is going on there.

“What dress did you really want to wear tonight?”

And the very subtle thing there? Was that she DID WHAT HER FRIEND TOLD HER TO DO, which is the same as what Fred did.

All we want is to make people happy so they don’t yell at us or lose their tempers or slam their fucking fist down on the table in the middle of dinner, making you think you did something wrong and then making you wonder for the rest of the night what you did and how you did it and what punishment you’re getting and how long you’re going to be lectured.

And you do it all the time. With everything in your life. For the rest of your life. Forever.

You will always question every time someone makes a comment about the things you’ve done. And you won’t fight back. You will change it about yourself to keep away from conflict or confrontation. You will think seething things in your head, but on the surface you’ll play it smooth and calm and just learn to avoid the situation in the future. You will anticipate. You will go above and beyond to make sure everyone else around you is always doing what they’re supposed to be doing, too, because when the bossman comes down on the entire department, he’s really coming down on you for not holding things together.

Or, like my fucking ex did to me… He would get pissed at something. He would snap at me. He would give me the cold shoulder. “No, it’s not you.” But it clearly WAS ME because the fucking asshole would be passive aggress toward me and to NOBODY ELSE. JUST ME! Just me. Everyone else he was at least civil to. But not me. I bore the brunt of it because it was my fault. Even when it wasn’t my fault, it was my fault. He would say it wasn’t me, but then secretly it WAS me… or, worse, it wouldn’t have started with me, but he took it out on me long enough that he FOUND SOMETHING ABOUT ME TO BLAME ME FOR.

And to this fucking day. If ANYONE raises their voice to me, I shut down. I close up. I get sick to my stomach. I throw up. I cry. I get diarrhea. I don’t eat. I get quiet. I get scared. I shake. I have trouble breathing. I do the nervous leg thing. I suck on my gums. I rub the webbing between my fingers. I obsessively clean my teeth with my tongue. I don’t want to sit still but I’m afraid to leave whatever place I’ve settled myself into. I want to go curl up in the bedroom and hide in the closet, but I can’t because what if whoever is mad at me wants to go in there? EVEN IF THE PERSON WHO RAISED THEIR VOICE AT ME IS MY FUCKING BOSS WHO DOESN’T EVEN LIVE ANYWHERE NEAR ME. They might want to come into my closet and use it and then I’ll be there and I’ll be in their way and then they’ll get even more mad at me and yell at me more. And if the stress goes on long enough, I start passing out randomly. I lose consciousness cooking dinner. I have to decide what the best course of action is. Should I go home? Should I stay out? What’s going to make the least amount of impact? What’s going to get me in the least amount of trouble? Where do I go? What do I do? How do I do it? What’s the answer here??

I’m like my dog. She’s trying so damned desperately to please me and I’m not giving her the signals she understands. I have to stay calm. I have to keep directing her and doing it repetitively until she understands. It’s okay. No, I’m not angry, I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated with a situation, not you. And my dog won’t understand words. She understands actions.

Now because of this, everyone in my life has to do this with me. I will ask everyone at some point, “Are we still cool? Have I done anything to upset you?” If I have, I will apologize and do whatever I can to make it right. Because in the end, all I want is peace and love and to feel like I’ve not done anything wrong in my life. Ever.

Because every time something goes wrong, even when it’s not my fault, I blame myself for not doing _x_.

i.e My coworker is bitching that me blowing my nose is gross. I should have been more thoughtful and gone outside to blow my nose because, as she loudly decreed from her room where she thought I couldn’t hear her, “Close the fucking door. I don’t wanna hear that shit”. The door WAS closed. But, because I upset someone, I take responsibility and blame. I don’t blow my nose around them anymore.

i.e. When two friends and I went out to dinner one night and I made the comment that I tried not to complain too much because I didn’t want to be like that, my friend says, “Well, you do complain a lot.” Since that time probably a year ago, I have continually made the effort not to complain about anything to that friend. I have made it a point not to complain to anyone, for that matter. Because I don’t want to be the person who complains all the time. No one wants to hear my complaints. Nobody likes a person who isn’t sunshine and roses all the time. It’s exhausting to be “on” all the time.

i.e. Someone on Twitter makes general commentary about people. I find some fault in myself and apologize profusely for being an asshole. Which generally leads to either that person telling me to shut the fuck up or another person telling me that no one was talking about ME in particular. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I’m horribly sensitive to people hurting and being hurt. I want to save the entire world from people hurting them because I’ve BEEN THERE and I don’t want anyone to feel like a steaming pile of shit just because someone thinks they aren’t whatever they’re “supposed” to be.

All thanks to someone shoving a coat hanger in my brain and rooting it around like he did.

It doesn’t seem like anything from this video could bring out a reaction so strong in someone like this, does it? That I’m sitting here with my knees going a mile a minute and my throat is tight and I have tears welling up that I can’t shed because if I cry, it might piss someone off. My chest hurts. I want to run and cry and hide, but if I do that, someone’s going to ask what is wrong and I can’t let anyone know something is wrong or what is wrong. I have to lie. Just like I lied for him all the time.

No, everything’s fine. We’re not fighting. That’s just how he is. I’m being too sensitive. I’m being ridiculous.

Suck it up. Suck it in. Get over it. Deal with it. Tell him off! Tell him you won’t put up with this anymore! Move on! Find someone who treats you better.

And when I did, we had to talk about it on HIS time. When HE felt like it. For as LONG as he felt like it. And when he was done discussing it, the conversation was over even when I hadn’t gotten even five minutes to give my say on something.

After awhile I just agreed with everything he said because it was just easier than fighting over it all the time. You want me to wear the black and white dress? Fine. It’s not that big of a deal. You want me to work three jobs to pay the bills and still come home and cook you meals and clean the house? Okay, fine. I’ll just dig a little deeper. I’ll find a way to do it.

Even now when my current S/O says to me; “We’re short on money. I don’t know why we can’t get ahead. We’re going to have to wait on this bill payment.” my answer is to find a way to make more money.

Hm. I can pick up a second job. I could find a way to work it around my current work schedule. I’d only have to give up on a little free time. I’d just not write as much even though I’m finally making headway with my stories. I can give up a little sleep if that means we can pay down some bills or something. I can stop eating out. I’ll just cook more at home. Sure that will take up more time, but it’s all right. I can find a way to do it. I’m resourceful. Maybe I could start selling plasma even though I’m terrified of needles and pass out every time. It will force me to get over my fear. It would be a good thing in the long run. That girl I worked with Erin said it made her tired the day after, but she felt better afterward. It would be good for my health. Maybe I’ll stop feeling so tired and shitty all the time, then. Hm. I know I can’t get more hours at work without giving up Mondays. Monday is my day to do special things. I could give that up for awhile. It’s not a big deal. I don’t need to do things for me. Just think how great it will feel to have all that debt paid down and be free from the yolk! Yeah! We’ll just dig a little further down. We’ve got more to give. We can give more. We’re not down and out yet.

Until I crash and burn and wind up in the hospital because I’ve burned my candle too low at both ends.

But the answer has to come from me. It’s not right of me to expect anyone else to do anything. Besides, how would I go about saying something to them without pissing them off at me? I don’t want to be sick for a week because I had to say something to someone about something. It’s really not worth my health to have to be combative. Besides, they work hard all the time. They’re tired. They don’t feel good. They work just as hard as I do. They have a stressful job. It’s okay. I can do this.

Oh. Well, the doctor says it’s not lupus and there’s no signs of lupus because the ANA test came back negative. I guess that’s the end of that. I must just be a hypochondriac. That’s all that is. I’m just being irrational. Everyone hurts all the time and has joint pain. How many people come in to the office with the same complaints you’re having. You’re just looking for an excuse to feel bad. You’re looking for an excuse to take it easy. You’re looking for a reason to be lazy. Get off your ass more, lazy ass! Your only excuse is you’re fat and don’t take care of yourself. That’s why you hurt. There’s no other reason for it.

Is anyone seeing the circular reasoning? Anybody?

We talk ourselves into things because we’ve never been allowed to feel entitled to anything. Everyone else’s wishes are superior to our own. It’s not a choice. It’s been ingrained. It takes years of psychotherapy to unravel. And even then… it’s never really gone. All it takes is one word. One phrase. One snotty attitude out of somebody. And if you speak up, you’re the asshole. Because you’ve been the victim of the asshole, you don’t want to BE the asshole.

Are you seeing it? Circular reasoning?

In short, f you haven’t lived through this, you have NO FUCKING RIGHT to tell someone to “get over themselves” and leave. If you were in this situation, you would not even fucking leave. You would be in the same fucking position I’m in. You wouldn’t know how to go on without someone else’s approval and direction because you’ve lived under changing rules and an oppressive thumb for so long.

But you just need to stand up for yourself!

Easy for you to say. Watch the video again, fucker.

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About Carrie Fulk Vaughn

Carrie Fulk Vaughn (C.V. Madison) is a licensed massage therapist, author of LGBTQIA, Urban fantasy, horror & romance. Gamer geek full of Mountain Dew and schadenfreude pie. Twitter addict. Ball jointed doll collector.

Posted on July 29, 2014, in Feminism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. ((((CV)))) and what so few people get is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The bulk of the damage lies deep, below the surface. I recall reading one of your Reno chapters where he crawls into a closet and hides for days. I cried for days because I was reading me. Your words were me. Thank you for this post. I know it cost you, and I can only hope, in the end, it also helps. ❤ You know I love you across all these miles.

  2. The funny thing is, I was writing me as well. 🙂

    I love you, too. I have for many years and I believe I always will.

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