A Minute to Myself (188)
The Symbolism of the Laundry


My book, Get Your Words Off Me, starts with me wondering:

I can’t remember the first time my husband insulted me or what he said because I didn’t even notice that I had been insulted. It wasn’t much of a stretch from the negative comments and forceful suggestions that he was continually giving me about what to do, and what to say, and what to think, and what to feel, and even how to respond to him and his comments. The realization that his caring critiques were really humiliating affronts took far too many years of my taking it, and accepting it as a part of our marriage. The shame is that I didn’t stand up to him the first time the word “fat” or “ugly” or “nothing” or maybe it was “stupid” came out of his mouth and scream back at him, “DON’T YOU EVER TALK TO ME LIKE THAT AGAIN!” Who knows, maybe that would have been enough to break a pattern before it started? But I didn’t. And so my life became one filled with far too many insults, and distrust and fear of the man I had once loved and respected, and much too much silence from me.

Now I know the answer to that question. No, that would not have stopped the downward turn of this marriage. Nothing would have stopped that. The answer in its starkest form came to me on Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday there was the first encounter after the move from the house three weeks ago. I was to drop off our dog for his week to pick up Poops’ poop. I called when I arrived at the gate of his apartment complex (I was so not surprised that he moved to a gated community). When he approached me I said that he needs a leash since I had to buy a leash since he took the leash. He commented that my daughter had brought it to my house; no she hadn’t, I said and then reiterated that I had to buy this one.

Then he asked if I brought his food bowls. No, I said, I had not. “They are not yours, you can’t take them,” was the comment.

“I had to buy a leash, you can buy bowls.”

“Bitch. I’m out of here. Fuck you.”

Yes, I am sure that if I would have yelled back at him that he was “fat” and “ugly” he would have just expanded the range, as he did. And I’m sure, too, that if I had tried to explain to him how much it hurt me to be called fat and ugly (does that really need explaining?), he would not have heard a word that went from my mouth to his ears because he was not making statements, he was expressing something ugly about himself. I was too kind when I wrote this a few years ago, but I was still married to him then and thinking that he isn’t as slimy and nasty as he is.

The other day in my writing group that is part of my Writing Project class a woman said that her husband, who had verbally abused her, finally got down on his knees and prayed and found it in himself to stop hurting her. When I read this excerpt from my book, she commented that she had yelled back at him that first time because she had the self-confidence. Then she said something that really cut to the quick, she said that her husband had really loved her. Yes, her husband had it in him to love someone besides himself. My ex, he was and is incapable of caring for anyone more than himself or even as much as himself. Maybe the way I handled things was the right way with this beast, preventing worse things from happening. But I am certain now that confrontation that first time would not have helped.

Since that day we had been through my talking back, my yelling back, counseling, mediation,  lawyer meetings, legal wranglings, police visits, and the sale of the house and nothing in his attitude or utterances has changed. If none of that had made an impact on him, and if four years of pain in the household did not have an impact on him, turning to him and saying, “You’re hurting me when you say that,” would not have prevented him from becoming who he is.


Mama Zen

You are absolutely right.


Whether it's a failed marriage or a failed business venture, whatever, there is some merit to analyzing the whole thing if for no other reason than to identify the things you don't want to repeat.
And I don't think there was much you could do with someone like exman. He is too comfortable in his sickness.
But don't spend too much time fretting over those "wasted" years - look at the two precious gems that came from it - and I'd bet you wouldn't trade either of them to get any of those years back, would you?


I used to have a friend with who I am not 'allowed' to be friends any more because her husband used to beat her senseless at the very utterance of another man's name. Of course these were in the days when the 'Oh I got hit by the door knob' excuse still flew, even though it would have had to have been one hell of a door knob.
'But he needs me,' was the pathetic reasoning she would burble through a busted lip.
After twenty-five years they are still together. Last time I saw her, she looked like shit. For someone who once had dreams of being a model and seeing the world, she has largely seen the inside of a mobile home. And probably a few door knobs along the way.
I often wonder what kind of logic-defying excuses people will create just so they can cling to an *idea* and how long it finally takes to realise that they have entirely wasted their time.
When I was married (much longer story) it was six months before I knew that the woman I was with was no longer the woman I married. Mostly because she 'secretly'(or so she imagined) became someone else's girlfriend in that time. This happened because I was 'too nice,' or so went one of the logic-defying excuses.
Sometimes I just don't understand...


Realising that silence is not the solution to domestic violence- whether this is physical or verbal - is making an important step towards happiness, dignity and self-respect.


You've hit upon one of the reasons that I think many people stay in abusive relationships. No matter how many times people are hit with fists or with words, if they believe that the person loves them there's this twist sense of hope that things can/will get better or that the person will change. One of the most difficult things to realize is that no, this abuser does NOT love you. I think for some, that hurts more than the physical and emotional abuse.


Dingo said,"One of the most difficult things to realize is that no, this abuser does NOT love you. I think for some, that hurts more than the physical and emotional abuse."

So true and I think the decision to leave the relationship comes when the abused finally realizes their abuser is incapable of loving anyone. And then realizing that they themselves ARE lovable and deserve to be loved by someone.

I had a family member who remained in an abusive relationship for years. It was frustrating and scary to watch but nothing I said or did could convince her to get out - the years of battering had so ingrained a sense of worthlessness in her. I had to wait for her own sense of self-preservation to kick in and for her little voice to convince her she was so much better than that.


If we loved ourselves first and realized our own self worth as individuals, we wouldn't abuse others. Exman doesn't love or even like himself and will never change (not if he's calling you horrible names just exchanging the dog, for crying out loud). Thankfully, this is not the case with you. You're just beginning your new life. He's a sad little man.


I'm experiencing such a wonderful sense of freedom living without the verbal assaults. Spent far too long "adapting." No matter what life may bring, living like this is so much better.
Here's to us and our ability to say and do and feel anything we like!

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Mama Zen, I'm glad I finally came to that realization. It's time certainly had come.

Geo, I'm so sorry for your front. What a life. in psychology there's a theory (whose name I can't remember) that partially explains the staying in: the longer we commit to something (are entrenched in it), the more difficult it will be to leave it because of that commitment. Just think of people at a bus stop, the longer you wait, the more inclined you are to keep waiting--since you've already so much of yourself in the wait.

The too-nice theory works in perhaps people using you but certainly not in your causing their activity. Sorry about that death of a marriage.

Anastasia, so true, the voiceless need to find their voices.

Dingo, but perhaps that realization, that the person can't love, is the only thing that can really get someone out of the situation. No, you cannot make a loveless person full of love. No, you cannot love a person into being full of love.

rockync, I hope I'm done with the analysis. As I say to my mother: I don't want to talk about him. I regret that they lived through this, but don't doubt that I had to do it. Them in my life: as my younger daughter wrote in a Mother's Day card: "I'm happy that you were born so that I could be born."

I don't know when I realized that he can't love. Before that I realized that he can't determine (or undermine) my worth.

JC, amen to that.

Beth, here's to big mouths! Here's to adapting to life as it should be lived!


Here's to you, Beth and Laura - living la vida buena!

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