On my drive to work I thought. That is what I do when I drive alone, I listen to my music loud and I think. Today I thought of our conversation and how I too have been abused by the man I am still married too. I have been hurt by his words, actions and hands. I started writing this blog in 2009 and I knew then I needed to get out.
I wrote on and off through the years. Some readers wrote to me with encouragement, others with questions like "Why am I still with him?" or "Why haven't I moved out?" and similar thoughts. Today I can say that I have left him and moved on and I have discovered the will power to stay away from him. Yes I had friends who helped me get to this point but I had to do the work on my own. My brain had to figure it all out. Of course it also helps that whenever I do see him he reminds me why I left. His words no longer have power over me though.
Today as I drove I thought of when I went back to school, got my master;s degree and something we learned; Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. My minds was wandering as I drive, but still I stayed on the road, both in thought and action.
It is shaped like a pyramid. Physiological is the base, what we need the most. Breathing, Food, Water, Sleep, but Sex also is there. Why? Because sex is good! It is not only how we reproduce but it gives us pleasure. People could argue that we don't NEED it after we reproduce but our bodies and mind prove them wrong over and over again.
We will do the stupidest things for sex. We also will do some fantastic things for sex. Sex is something our bodies need, want and desire. How does this go back to why someone might stay with their abuser? Sometimes it is for the sex. Not for me. That I can say with certainty, but I believe for others this is a reason. Of course sometimes it is because they provide us with our food, they are in our home, where we sleep. The base of a pyramid is a powerful place.
The next tier up is Safety. In that tier we find Security and Safety, Family and Property are here as well. Why would someone staying with their abuser for safety and security may sound wrong and it is. But to the abused sometimes to them it is safe. it is their world and they are comfortable there. If they stop, leave, seek help or alter their world they may change so much that they are no longer safe. The mind is a powerful thing and it can make you feel safe in an unsafe condition.
We also need our family and property. Sometimes knowing you have to leave people or things behind is too much and we just can't do it. Sometimes it could be your child. This is where the relationship is cult like. Ex cult members talk about being shunned by their family when they leave and sometimes this need for family is so strong they will return. Sometimes the abused return to their abuser for the same reason.
Belonging is the next tier up. We all need a place to belong and here is where I think the tipping point lies. It is when we have a sense of belonging that we start to be able to leave our abuser. This tier may be smaller but it is higher in the pyramid and is strong enough to give us that extra push. But how do the abused get this feeling? How is it stronger than Safety?
Honestly it takes one person or one life event. It just takes one moving pebble to start a landslide. When one person reaches out to them especially if it is at the right time they will find the strength to leave. Then I thought, what gave me the strength to leave? I was miserable, I hated my marriage, I knew I was abused and still I stayed.
The tipping point for me happened when my mom got hurt and my dad needed me. He needed me, and that gave me the self-esteem to get out and not go back. I stayed and did all I could for them even after I got so sick I couldn't take care of everyone and me. I also took time to get to know me again. I was not the same person who married him 17 years ago.
When my mom did die, I mourned but I had to get away to do it. I left. I had a chance to leave and get further away from my ex and I took it. Some family will say I was selfish, let them! We all mourn in our own way. I needed to be away from my family and from my ex. I was weak then and it would have been so easy to go back. Instead I ran away. And I am not sorry that I did.
I had a safe place to stay, a job I enjoyed and people near me who were good for me. The thing I learned was when people near me were no longer good for me then it is time to move on. No longer was I going to be caught in my mind or in my reality with someone who was not good for me. My eyes were opened and my spirit was as well.
This year I have escaped my abuser, I found my father, lost my mother and discovered who among my family and friends had my back and who was just along for the ride. I met new people who were life changing for me and discovered strength inside myself I never knew was there. I left my comfort zone and moved up those tiers. They may get smaller but their meaning grows stronger the higher up you go.
My friend, who knows the abused woman who went back to her abuser, she needs to move up her pyramid. It won't be her family rushing in to save her, she has to be the one to move up those tiers. Just be there to lend a hand or shoulder for support. Hopefully her pebble will move soon, she has to be the one to move it and recognize it though.
That was my drive into work today. I couldn't sleep so I just thought...