One of the things I enjoy most about my life now is the peace I have. After living so many years in utter chaos, I value the peace even more. After years of living with a man who loved me one minute and was vomiting vitriol at me the next, I cherish the peace. Finding peace was no easy task. Vitriol was everywhere in my life. EVERYWHERE!
I’ve been criticized for not wanting kids. I’ve been criticized for wanting kids. I’ve been criticized for wanting to get married. And I’ve actually been criticized for getting married. I’ve been criticized for not going to college, and conversely criticized for going to college. Criticized for working and for not working. The list is endless.
It would seem that at every meaningful point in my life, someone was always there to criticize the decision I made.
My greatest critic was my ex-husband. I was finally able to remove him from my life almost five years ago. A couple of years of counseling, and I was also able to remove his voice from head. The voice that played and replayed the criticism over and over and over again.
It’s unfortunate, though, not entirely a surprise, to realize just how much of his vitriol seeped into my children. Sometimes, I hear something come out of their mouth, and I cringe at how much like him they sound. And to tell them, “you sound just like him!”… only causes them to spew more hate.
Recently, as we were talking about my daughters ongoing counseling, and the many benefits of having a third party to talk to (aka, someone to complain to about everything your parents are doing wrong) my oldest son took the opportunity to blast me for being a horrible mother! Why? Because I “failed to protect” him from his stepfather. I failed him, because, according to the wisdom of the 20-year-old who is sleeping on my couch, I didn’t protect him and I stayed in the marriage too long. To which he also said he would always resent me and never forgive me.
I have tried to explain to him for years.. nearly five of them to be exact.. that I was afraid to leave. I was afraid I couldn’t stand on my own two feet and support us. I was afraid. And that’s exactly the way my ex wanted it to be. He wanted me to afraid so I wouldn’t forget my “place.”
I have tried to explain to him the cycles of narcissistic abuse. The patterns. The behaviors. All of the things that kept me in the marriage. I wasn’t privy to any of this information while I was in the marriage. I had to escape first before I could get educated. I didn’t even know what had been going on until it was over. I plead ignorance. Truly.
But now that I do know… I NEVER EVER want that kind of vitriol back in my life.
And yet, somehow, the peace has turned into chaos. And here I am, taking solace in the only place I can find it: words.
Reminding myself, “you cannot rationalize with an irrational person.”
And yet, I still want to grab him and shake him by the shoulders and ask him… do you have any idea the magnitude of what I’ve done for you? The fights I’ve gotten in between. The times I’ve taken up for you, even when I thought you were wrong. But because you are my son, I defended you like a mother bear defending her cubs. Do you know the sacrifices I’ve made, for you? For you! And you’re going to tell me I failed you? You resent me? And it’s unforgivable? You’re going to continue to treat me just like “he” treated us! A behavior that was so completely deplorable that I “failed” you by not protecting you from it?
At some point, the onus is on you. Be a victim or a survivor. But don’t sit around vomiting vitriol. I don’t want to hear it.
– J. Ela
“if you don’t have anything nice to say, then shut the hell up!”