Friday, May 22, 2015

Accidental Abuse

Earlier this week I read this article that is making its way around social media.  In a moment of complete and utter honesty and vulnerability, I'm gonna share with you why the title of the article interested me and what has been going through my mind the last 36 hours.

For those who haven't seen the article and didn't click the link I so generously provided you, the title of the article is "Woman Realizes That She's Been Accidentally Abusing Her Husband This Whole Time...Wow.".  For many, this article has been extremely eye opening, but for me it just caused more mental and emotional anguish to deal with, and that's because to a certain extent, I am that woman, and I realized that two years ago while I was still married and things were going south.

I have a very strong Type A personality, and to many it (understandably) comes across as if I think I am always right and can do no wrong.  But here is the thing - I KNOW very well I do things wrong. I don't know everything there is to know and I don't do everything right.  There are plenty of people out there that do plenty of things better than me.  The thing is I have high expectations of myself and my life and am incredibly hard on myself. Although I know those previous statements to be the truth and I accept them, I still do everything in my power to be the best I can be at whatever task is put in front of me and that includes keeping things clean and in order so that there are less "messes" to deal with. By that, I'm not specifically referring to physically cleaning things and having things clean, I'm referring to the overall concept. For instance, the better I stay on top of my email, the less likelihood of a task being missed and becoming an "emergency".

Just as I expect things of myself, I expect things of others in my professional and personal life.  I will admit that those expectations are not always fair (but neither is life), and for that reason I do my best to keep calm when those expectations aren't met.  

From a professional standpoint, these expectations don't become problematic for a number of reasons, but the biggest is that I was hired by someone with a personality similar to mine and we have hired individuals with similar personalities, so within our work group, we all are organized, work hard and have high expectations of ourselves.  Those that don't have that personality just haven't worked out or stuck around for very long. Outside of our department, the same can not be said about personality types, but we have systems and processes in place to keep things moving and get the job done successfully, as we all have different strengths and weaknesses that we put together and work through.

From a personal standpoint, it is a whole different story. I come up with a thousand reasons why letting my personality come out so strongly was okay, but in the end I feel like all I am doing is making excuses for myself and excuses don't make progress or instigate positive changes. But then I take a step back and remember I did make a bunch of changes during the marriage, but the issues continued to exist.  And when the marriage officially failed, I made a ton more changes, but no matter how much I try to just let small things drop, the battling continues.

So where does that leave me?  Well, I'm not totally sure.  Do I think that I accidentally abused Adam? Yes, I do think that existed to a certain extent. Do I think that if I found a way to "control" that, the marriage could have continued? Maybe, but that's a BIG MAYBE that requires more details.  I think it would have only continued because Adam wouldn't have been depressed enough to leave, and I would have been so scared of failure I would have stayed and been depressed and MISERABLE and stuck in an extremely unhappy and loveless marriage. But maybe that miseray would have led me to get enough strength and courage to leave - whichever way you think about it, the marriage in the true sense of the work would not have continued.

Do I think my marriage failed because of the existence of this "accidental abuse"? Absolutely not! My marriage failed because of lies that can be traced back to the very first conversation(s) we had. Lies that I didn't start to pick up on until about 6-9 months into our relationship, when I was so deeply in love (or so I thought) that I couldn't see that my love was for the person he was pretending to be and not the person he was. At that time, I also had very low self-esteem that I thought that the faults that I knew existed were things that I just needed to learn to accept because "he loves me and no one else will" and so I put my doubts and concerns in the back of my head and never spoke of them until recently. 

Did I have a part in the marriage failing?  No doubt about it!  At the very least, I instigated his behaviors by allowing it to continue for 3 years or so. No matter what - the marriage involved two people, and therefore the failure did too.

Where does that leave me moving forward?  Well, I'm a helluva lot more confident and stronger, have higher self-esteem, emotionally healthier and much more aware of things than I was when I was dating Adam and even when our marriage ended.  In the future, I will not allow myself to get into a relationship with someone if I have a single serious doubt or concern as to whether trouble lies ahead. Additionally, I have learned a lot of lessons as to what I can and can't actually deal with.  

  • Someone makes a mistake and buys the wrong meat - no big deal. That person continuously does the same things over and over again - that's a problem.  
  • Someone cleans up without being asked, just doesn't do it the way I would - yes that would definitely bother me, but hey - they are helping.  That person doesn't do anything without constant nagging, and even then, barely does anything - no way they are sticking around. 
Yes, these may seem like small, stupid issues that you can deal with, but I know my personality, and those are not things I can deal with.  I knew what I wanted in a partner before, and I let myself ignore those things because there is no such thing as the perfect man.  This time around, I know there is no such thing as the perfect man, but I truly believe that there is a such thing as the "perfect-for-me (and my kids) man", and someday I will find that person who enjoys being physically fit, eating well, keeping a clean and organized house, home-cooked meals and is financially stable with a strong work ethic.  My "expectations" are not out of this world - he does not need to be wealthy, have a strong buff body or anything of the sort, just needs to have a similar lifestyle.

Where does that leave you in regards to this article?  Whether you are a man or a woman, you could be "accidentally abusing" your spouse/significant other.  I think it has much, much less to do with male versus female, and much more to do with personality type.  So definitely read this article and if you think this may be you, even a little bit, then evaluate how you are acting and do your best to actively change without letting it change who you are. That might just mean becoming more aware or that might mean going to therapy - as your issues may go deeper.  If everything else in your relationship is good and happy and this is your biggest issue - I think that making small changes will make a big difference.  If there are issues in your relationship that go deeper, then don't expect that making these changes will miraculously turn things around, because a relationship is a two-way street and you need both partners in the relationship to treat it and their partner with love and honesty and communicate openly. If  you are the only one willing to work on yourself and make changes, you may not find what you are looking for, but maybe for you that is still acceptable.  As long as you can find a way to be happy, that is what matters most!

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