Do you ever wake up and think “how on earth did I end up here?”

That was yesterday morning for me, and what sparked me to set up a blog. But the question doesn’t ever really go away, it fades for a bit and then bam! Its back in your head again.

I only recently realised that I had been manipulated for years by my ex (I shall refer to him as X from now on). He actually told me! His words were “it’s fair to say I’ve been manipulating and lying to you for years to get what I want”. You must be pretty sure of yourself to admit that to someone who’s divorcing you. What I find constantly amazing is there is no guilt. He has no guilt for what he’s done, it’s as if it was a reasonable thing to do. Over the years somehow he’s managed to put all the guilt on me, or I’ve taken it off him. I’m now having to learn not to feel guilty all the time. That’s not easy!

When we met, I was a very independent person. Quite “hard” I would say, not very flexible, very clear what my opinion was and determined not to follow in my mothers footsteps. Today I am nothing like that person – in fact I am still trying to work out who I am. What do I like? What  do I want to do? To eat? What  is my opinion? Do I have one?? I have no idea when this all started, but its been done in a very subtle manner over many years. We were together for 19 years, that’s a long time for the effects of being manipulated to take root. Somehow I increasingly felt that I was being unreasonable most, if not all, of the time. I was the one who always said “no”, the negative one. Somehow I took on cleaning the house, when we both worked full time. I justified this to myself that he washed and looked after the cars. I planted and weeding in the garden, he mowed. Then when our oldest child was born, and he (X) was often away for work, I became the main carer too. Which was fine, I wanted to be a mother, although at that time I was still very into my career and terrified if I didn’t go back to work as soon as possible I would be replaced. But when I did go back to work (full-time), somehow I kept all the other roles as well. At the time I didn’t mind, I’ve always been a “get on and do it” kind of person. But a year or so later I sensed that something had changed between us, and I remember saying to him, in a row, that I didn’t want to be in a loveless marriage. I was ready to walk out then, with our son, but I didn’t. Somehow he persuaded me to stay and for a while things got better.

You see, it’s all so subtle that it’s hard to remember specific examples of how he managed to manipulate me. I didn’t realise it was happening at the time. Even after we started divorce proceedings, he was contacting me and varying from being nice, or helpful, to threatening me that if we didn’t sort out the financials between us we would lose everything as we’d have to go to court. It was more obvious what he was doing, but it still took me time to see it. When you are in a situation of manipulation, and have been for so long, you can so easily be manipulated again. They know your buttons, how to switch on the feelings of guilt or make you question whether you are being reasonable. It was, until recently, an emotional rollercoaster. Until my solicitor asked him to stop harassing me – since then it has calmed down and I can begin to think straight, to start rebuilding myself and our (mine and the childrens) lives.

So I guess the answer will still elude me. I have no idea how I ended up here. I only recently realised what had been going on. Various friends made comments on how often he was contacting me, considering he was already going out with someone else. I found the WomensAid site, and their checklist of signs of psychological marital abuse which rang so many bells. And I went to see a psychologist recently because I was scared I was sinking back into a depression, who, I think, pulled it all together when she said “this is what they do – they can’t let go of you completely because they need to control. They let you go, then they reel you back in”. Like a cat playing with a mouse.

Ironic really; he never liked cats.

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