Oh sweet dear Jesus, Son of Mary and one whom folks call when shit hits the fan... What the HELL just happened??
I asked myself this question a million times during my time with His Side. Keeping true to his ways, he lured me into another useless argument, making me look and feel crazy, right up until the time he left my home. It went like this:
Him: "I sure would live a lot longer if somebody would BLESS ME!"
Me, (turning from the computer screen): "Wha..???"
Him: "Yesterday. Riding in the car. I sneezed. And you didn't say BLESS YOU. I would NEVER do that to you. I always say 'bless you.' See how you are?"
Me: "Are. You. Serious? I was in traffic. I only vaguely remember you sneezing. Now I am responsible for you not living longer???"
You can only imagine how the remainder of this conversation devolved into one of the most ridiculous exchanges I've ever had with anybody in my life. And the worst part is, this happened with His Side more than I would like to admit during our time together.
It didn't matter what... His Side found something to make my fault. I defended myself against some of the most juvenile and petty accusations - real and imagined. If I ignored him, he would rage for hours about how right he was about the thingy I won't defend... or worse, get angry and escalate to get a better reaction from me.
But here's the kicker. During the course of defending myself, without fail, he eventually said... "Look. Look. See how you're talking to me. Why are you acting like this? You blame me for everything. But Look. At. You."
That, my friends, is textbook CRAZY-MAKING. Because in fact, I did look and feel like a crazy person defending myself against the indictment of forgetting to say bless you. Grown-ass mature men don't initiate such petty conversations. I certainly looked like a crazy fool taking the time to actually respond.
When this passive-aggressive, crazy-making behavior first emerged, I did what most normal people would do: I took a moment to wonder if I was doing something wrong.
"You want somebody else. I can see it."
"You're going to cheat on me."
"You blame me for everything."
"You don't love me."
I was exhausted trying to trace the source of these sudden accusations which came along with his increasingly aggressive behavior and threats. The accusations were a ruse to provide ample excuse for his worsening treatment of me, stacked on top to cover his deteriorating self-esteem.
As one woman kindly put it, 'a crazy-making mate is also suffering, just in a different way.' And I believe every word of that. His Side was miserable. I was an easy target. And on some level I see he regretted that I was unable to provide what he needed to fix things for himself. But really, nobody can. What he needs right now can't possibly descend on him like a blanket from heaven and make everything hunky-dorey.
I didn't catch the signs early as they emerged. I left room for him to get comfortable. "She loves me. She'll never leave." I tend to get stuck with that label, including at work. There's dedication. Then there's stupidity. When somebody believes you're blindly loyal enough to stay no matter what, that is no badge of honor. Don't smile and say "Thanks." It means you are not recognized as dedicated to your own self interests. I believe His Side thought I would never arrive at this step. While I "stood up for myself" during the course of the chaos, I didn't really stand up to the plate with the best solution - which is stop taking the bullshit altogether.
About.com provides this summary under crazy-making emotional abuse:
Emotional abuse is used to control, degrade, humiliate and punish a spouse. While emotional abuse differs from physical abuse, the end result is the same…a spouse becomes fearful of their partner and begins to change their behaviors to keep their partner happy. The happier their partner, the less domestic violence the spouse has to suffer. By the time a spouse identifies the true problem they have begun to feel as if they are crazy. They will doubt themselves and their own sense of reality because emotional abuse is meant to cause the victim to question their every thought and behavior.
The article goes on to offer examples, and I have experienced most. Harassment, intimidation, including countless accusations that I must be cheating.
I'm exhausted y'all. I'm finally truly exhausted because the struggle is over and I can stop fighting. And defending. And hurting. And feeling more disappointed than words can express.
Sometimes I wonder how long it may take His Side to address the addictions and heartaches that drain his life. In reality, he's just a "hurt person hurting other people." Other times, I really don't care because I am relieved that he is no longer searching for that answer on my dime.