I had been married for about 10 years.  I knew he was having affairs.  I had even talked to a couple of the bolder ones on the phone who had the nerve to call his home, MY home, the home of our CHILDREN!  One of them I remember kept asking “Who are you?”  I responded “HIS WIFE !  who are you?”  Well, after several go-rounds with this particular robin, I knew this conversation was going nowhere fast and hung up.  You might, with righteous indignation demand, “What did he say when you confronted him?”  But, sadly, at that point in my life, my already hugely battered self-esteem would not allow me to even attempt to confront him one more time.  I couldn’t have taken watching him stand there in front of me and blandly lie to me yet again over his inappropriate behavior.  If he had said to me one more time, “I don’t know who it was, must have been a wrong number.”  This was way before the days of caller ID, mind you.   I would have just disintegrated right there on the spot.  Ya’know, just like how they show the vampires on TV, when they get struck by the sun, one minute they are standing there in full view of everyone, the sun comes up and poof!  all that remains where they were standing is this cloud of smoke and dust.  That would have been me.   I just couldn’t’ve take it again….

This obviously wasn’t the first one and I was completely convinced that as long as I stayed there would continue to be others.  I had two children under 10 years old and wasn’t working at the time.  Children needed their father, didn’t they?  Children in a family together, even when it was not good, was still better than children from a divorced family, wasn’t that what everyone said?

This was all happening during the early 80’s.  We were enlightened back then.  Feminism was alive and active.  So where did it all go wrong? Now, I think it was all wrong before it ever started, but that is another story for another day.  But back then, I thought it was all my fault.  I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t a good enough housekeeper, and on and on, ad nauseam….

There was a part of me that knew he loved me, or so I told myself.  And yet, the scene that kept running through my head was this:

“If I could find a tree, just the right size tree, and run my car into it, not too hard, but just hard enough, ….  I could knock myself out, be unconscious for 4-5 days, he would come RUNNING to my bedside, sit there as the handsome, distraught, young loving husband, holding my hand, gently stroking it, repeating over and over again how sorry he was, what a schmuck he had been, could I ever forgive him, please come back to him and give him another chance, how he would never mess up again…. Then, after he was sufficiently scared that he might actually lose me,  I would miraculously come out of my coma, with absolutely no brain damage, tell him I heard every word he had said to me while I was unconscious and how I completely forgave him, because I know knew that he would be forever faithful, now that he had almost lost me and realized how much he really did love me. ”

Jeez, Louise!  What FANTASIES we can come up with to appease our broken hearts!  …  and our bruised and battered self-esteem.

I was probably 4 or 5 years into recovery when it finally dawned on me as I heard another woman talking around a table.  She was telling a story about HER FANTASY, and I thought, “oh, my, gawd, she is suicidal!”.  Then and there, in that moment of recognition, it dawned on me that I had been suicidal.  If anyone had asked me at the time that was all going on if I was suicidal I would have completely denied that I was, at that time suicidal, or had ever been suicidal.  After all, it was just a little fantasy, wasn’t it???  …..  It probably took me another 5 years before I could tell that story for myself sitting around a table….  Finally admitting, that yes, I had been suicidal for several years when I got into recovery

Just Lexxie, Chatterin’ Again!

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Had a Hospital Stay  — Obvious
Had to call the Police — Obvious
Had to call an Ambulance — Obvious
Guns, Knives, Blood  — Obvious
Threatened Your Life – and you believed it — Obvious
Threatened to Take Their Own Life – and you believed it –Obvious
Broken Bones — Obvious
Black eye  / Fat Lip —  Obvious
Bruises where they can be covered by clothing — A Direct Message to You
You FEEL beat up – even though you were never hit

And yet, many partners, even after experiencing several of the above situations, don’t want to believe that they are in an abusive relationship, don’t want to believe that it will happen again, and again, and again….  until they get out and stay out!

Abuse in a relationship, whether it be dating, a marriage, any family member, a job, or a friendship,  can take many forms.  Verbal, Emotional, Psychological, Sexual, and, of course, Physical.  Many times, even with broken bones and bruises, we have a tendency to minimize what is happening.  We might say to ourselves, “Well, at least he doesn’t HIT me, he would NEVER hit me.”  And that seems to be enough.   For some of us, being faithful in the relationship is our final boundary.  And again, we might find ourselves saying, “He/She doesn’t screw around on me!”  Because, that would be more than we could tolerate.  Many times, the final boundary is about money.  “My partner/mate has a job, brings their check home and is holding up their end of the financial part of the relationship.”

Are we setting the bar way too low?  Are these the bare minimum kinds of expectations?  Today, I can say, Yeah! This bar is way too low! But, there are lots of ways that abusive behavior can creep into our relationships, and depending on what we saw growing up, we don’t even have a clue that it IS abusive.   When someone confront us, asking, “Why do you let _____ get away with treating you like that?!”  We find ourselves shocked that anyone would consider it abusive.

Some kinds of abuse, usually in the beginning, are very subtle, so subtle that we don’t even recognize it as abuse.   But then what do we ACoA’s/children from dysfunctional families,  know about what is normal?  They may say hurtful things, or embarrass you just to see how you respond.  Will you tolerate the behavior, make excuses for it, or do you immediately let your partner know that you will not tolerate that treatment from them or anyone?  Here is a checklist that might help in recognizing if YOUR relationship is abusive…

CHECKLIST  (provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Does your partner…

  • Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family? (psychological abuse)
  • Put down your accomplishments or goals? (psychological abuse)
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? (psychological abuse)
  • Use intimidation or threats to get you to do what they want?
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
  • Call, text, or email you several times a day or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you don’t want to do?
  • Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family?
  • Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”?

Do you…

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of  what your partner would do if you broke-up or left?

If any of these are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without some help, the abuse will continue.

(Adapted from Reading and Teaching Teens to Stop Violence, Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, Lincoln, NE).
If you need help please call 911 or The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 404-688-9436


THE ACA TEXT
page 573-574

Crosstalk
Some groups incorporate a definition of crosstalk into their meeting format. This definition is usually read just before the group begins a discussion on the meeting. The term “cross talk” means interrupting, referring to, commenting on, or using the content of what another person has said during a meeting. Cross talk also refers to any type of dialog that occurs as the meeting is in progress as well. Members talking to one another or discussing what someone has just said is cross talk.

Many ACA members come from family backgrounds where feelings and perceptions were judged as wrong or defective. In ACA, each person may share his or her feelings and perceptions without fear of being judged or interruption.  In ACA, we create a safe place to open up and share. As part of creating that safety, cross talk is not permitted. We respect these boundaries for two reasons:

  • When we were growing up no one listened to us; they told us that our feelings were wrong.
  • As adults we are accustomed to taking care of other people and not taking responsibility for our lives.

In ACA, we speak about our own experiences and feelings; we accept without comment what others say because it is true for them. We also work toward taking responsibility in our lives rather than giving advice to others. Here are various forms of cross talk:

Interrupting
Each member in ACA should be able to share, free from interruption. When someone is sharing, all others should refrain from speaking, including side conversations with a neighbor. Gestures, noise, or movement could also be considered interruption if it were grossly distracting.

Referring to
In ACA we keep the focus on our lives and our feelings. We do not make reference to the shares of others except as a transition into our own sharing. A very general “what’s been brought up for me is…” or the occasional “thank you for sharing” is fine, but please do not make more detailed references to another person’s share.

Commenting on
In ACA we accept what each person shares as true for them. We go to great lengths to avoid creating the climate of shame that enforced the three primary rules of a dysfunctional family: don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel. In ACA, we simply do not make a comment either positive or negative about another person’s share before, during, or after a meeting. In like manner, we never speak about the contents of another person’s share. everything that is shared in an ACA meeting
is considered privileged and confidential and must be treated with the utmost of respect. Unsolicited advise can be a form of commentary and should be avoided.

———— ——— ——— ——-

This is from an ACA meeting format:
Before we begin the meeting, I would like to mention that we do not “cross talk” in the meeting. Cross talk means interrupting, referring to, or commenting on what another person has said during the meeting. We do not cross talk because adult children come from family backgrounds where feelings and perceptions were judged as wrong or defective. In ACA, each person may share feelings and perceptions without fear of judgment. We accept without comment what others say because it is true for them. We work toward taking more responsibility in our lives rather than giving advice to others.

Fixing others: Learn to listen
“In ACA, we do not touch, hug or attempt to comfort others when they become emotional during an ACA meeting. If someone begins to cry during a meeting, we allow the person to feel his or her feelings without interruption. To touch or hug the person is known as “fixing”. As children we tried to fix our parents or to control them with out behavior. In ACA, we are learning to take care of ourselves. We support others by accepting them into our meetings and listening to them. We allow them to feel their feelings in peace.”

———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— –

Also I feel this is very important:
ACA text
page 576

“We want to balance keeping our groups safe from cross talk with our own responsibility to educate new members about group decorum. In most cases a gentle reminder works.”