I grew up in an abusive household. The woman who was my abuser wasn’t related to me, but she might as well have been, in everything but genetics, she was my mother. Young kids believe anything parents tell them. She told me that I was stupid, ugly and so flawed that even God couldn’t love me. She did this in a 1,000 small ways, verbally, the way she treated me, the tone of her voice, what she said I could do and what I would never be able to do. She convinced me I was dumb, fatally flawed, and my family and God hated me or couldn’t love me.
Because of my past, I have “radar” about abuse, most abuse surviviors do. I thought I could NEVER be abusive. Hah. Not true. I have twice apologized to my husband for behavior over a period of time which I later saw was abusive in nature if not actual abuse.
How? Well, think of it this way: abuse and bullying both start with self-centeredness. I had a boat-load of problems when I came out of my childhood home, and what I’d done or the opinions I’d formed about how the world worked to me weren’t just opinions, they were FACT! and NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL!
Because of that, I wouldn’t and couldn’t entertain other opinions or feelings as possibly having merit, including those of the man I married. I had a boatload of rage that I hadn’t resolved and that also pushed me to not even listen to my husband’s opinions, ideas, or feelings about some issues. It didn’t matter what he said, it was wrong, unless it agreed with what I thought and believed.
And isn’t this a form of bullying too? I mean really, think about it. Isn’t bullying imposing your opinion and/or wants on someone else, no matter what they say or do? I kept that up for a few years.
I also used the pattern I’d learned with my first husband, who’s parents (divorced) had called each other stupid, given each other charley horses, etc.
I called my husband names, made fun of him — in front of him — in public,. One day he started to bend my thumb back when I did this. I was outraged! How dare he hurt me?
He said, “You’re hurting me too by what you say. If you stop, I will.” And I did. I never knew you could have a relationship with a man that didn’t include making fun of each other in a nasty way, I thought it was just the way relationships worked. I’d never had another model.
There were other ways I believed I had to have my own way, no matter what, that no one else’s opinion mattered. As I’ve grown up and away from the wounded child I was, I’ve learned that they, like the lousy model I had for marriage, were born from the wounding, not truth. Yes, I have opinions. No, I don’t always think everyone else is right. But I do think that everyone’s opinion is valid and should be listened to these days. I’ve grown up. I don’t have to have my own way all the time any more to feel safe.
The hoarding is the last of these behaviors (I hope). And, yes, it’s another form of abuse I’ve inflicted on my patient husband. It’s hard to move away from something that makes you feel safe, even when you know it’s wrong. No one ever said adulthood was easy — I’m working on it!