In any type of abusive relationship, there is a repetitive cycle that occurs. In 1979, a Psychologist named Lenore E. Walker developed the social cycle theory that is shown in the graphic here.
It has been adapted over the years and others have developed more specific versions for emotional abuse, child abuse, and even just violence in general. Having been a victim of nearly every type of abuse there is at some point of my life, I personally find her original to be a simplistic yet very accurate depiction despite who the perpetrator or the victim is.
This was my existence for most of my life. Most people wouldn't know this unless we were really close and even some of those few had/have no idea. This was also a regular part of my childhood; I actually grew to look forward to Mommy Dearest drinking or doing cocaine because it meant after the explosion, we would all be happy soon. As a child, I was sick regularly, I bit my nails, I twirled my hair until I pulled it out (I still have a bald spot). I would rip paper into tiny pieces and stick it in my pockets for safe keeping. I wet the bed until I was 9, I was a sleepwalker, and I spent a lot of time sitting in the confines of my closet because there, I felt safe.
When I became a teenager, writing and art, caffeine and cigarettes became my outlets. I still have numerous journals that are full of my pain and when the pain became too much I started to cut myself, not for attention, but for control. Over time it became very difficult to maintain the mask that I was taught to keep on my face. Despite a rather amazing ability to always smile during the shit storm, certain people in my life started to notice something behind that grin and they started to gently pry. Over the years, I gradually improved my ability to hide that anything was ever wrong. When my friend Jupiter moved away, I sealed up any remaining cracks and weak spots so everyone would just see a solid foundation from the outside. If you look happy, people don't ask what's wrong with you.
I met my ex-husband in the Spring of 2009 and by the end of that summer we were dating exclusively and living together. I realized prior to moving in that I had a lot of "stuff" I had to work through but I didn't want to miss out on someone great just because of the torment that DS put me through. So, in true Roxy form, when I needed to cry I politely excused myself and did so in the confines of the bathroom or spent the bike ride to work bawling my eyes as cars whizzed past me. The amount of time I spent crying increased as did his suspicions about what the fuck was really going on. He tried to comfort me, hold me, and get me to talk about what happened whenever I was upset but, I wanted no part of that. The more he pushed, the more I retreated inside myself until it became too much for me to carry alone.
I eventually quit the old job I had and found a new one because DS continued to show up even though I had an Order of Protection taken out against him. He would stay right within the legal footage of the Order as he stood outside in the parking lot of my workplace making sure I noticed him, at least once a week. I changed my phone number, my address (twice), and he still emailed me and eventually showed up at my new job 3 months after the Order expired.*
*Prior to an Order expiring, you have the option to renew it for another 2 years. However, when you do so, you have to notify your perpetrator of the places (specific addresses) that they will have to stay away from, in essence, giving them a map to exactly where you are. When I brought this to the attention of the "Safe Place" secretaries, I was told, "If he shows up at your new place, just call the cops." My response, "You recognize this paper is not a shield, right? It's not going to stop him from being violent. It just gives the detectives a primary suspect once my body is found." She did not respond after that, she just stared at me silently. I did not renew because I thought that I would be more able to maintain my anonymity.*
From the moment I moved in with my ex-husband I felt out of place. His home was too quiet and too empty and too organized and his life was too predictable and I started to need . . . something. I had no idea what was missing in my life. I had a nice home, a nice guy, a dog (his), a job, nice friends. What was missing? I would stay up for days (literally) sometimes because there was all this energy within me that I had nowhere to put. I tried art, writing, dancing, hooping; every single craft I could get my hands on.
It wasn't until meeting our therapist two years later (2011) that I had any idea what I needed. I needed an explosion and that's something I wasn’t getting. Due to the lack of explosive stimuli, the resulting "come down" is a state I wasn't ever reaching. I started to get horrible migraines and back spasms. I couldn't and wouldn't sleep for days. When I did sleep, I would twitch, talk, and cry involuntarily. I would overeat and then under eat. I got to the point where leaving my house was a struggle and it just became easier to deal with the itch, the twitch, the buzz of electricity at home.
It became a really dismal existence. Here I was, after 27 years of my life, finally in a safe space needing an "incident" to relax. I had no way to explain, even to myself, that I missed the abusive cycle. That my body needed to get rid of some of that electricity before my breaker tripped. The coping skills I learned as child were no longer serving me here in this calm environment. I'd done them all over and over but, nothing squelched the electric vibrations within me. I read books on PTSD, Dissociative Disorders, depression, anxiety. I followed some courageous bloggers who spoke about their own trials and dilemmas. I even considered medication when I started to "stir the pot" seeking release.
Over time, therapy helped deal with the trauma, my (ex)-husband helped deal with the drama, and I sought some cure for my broken spirit via the Net. While my psyche was being dealt with, I had 30 years of hurt that no one could repair but me. Eventually, I came across a Meet Up group that I thought might lead me to a softer place for myself; I watched their events for about a year. Simultaneously, I befriended a woman who I felt connected to through some mutual experiences in pain. It so happened that this woman, Monique, was also a member of my Meet Up group. This May (2014) she and a gentleman named Lawrence facilitated a class on energy that both my husband and I attended together. while there, for the first time in 32 years, I learned how to redirect the seemingly endless current within that had been on a loop for so long.
Holy Shite! I had so much more to say than I realized. To those that are still with me, THANK YOU and please return for tomorrow's post; I will be sharing what I learned this past May from these two wonderful people who helped me solo much. Until then, as always, Be Riveted!