Verbal abuse can show itself in a variety of forms, including bullying, defaming, defining, trivializing, harassing, blaming, berating, taunting, threatening, and name-calling
I remember very clearly thinking “I would rather be beaten than hear what he has to say to me because he can’t take it back. Bruises and cuts heal”…Words, like thumbtacks in paper hearts, leaving holes, can never be filled in. If you held my heart up to the light, you would see the light shine through all the holes he put in my heart with his words. Most of the time his words were about me. When I was put on bed rest with my first child, the day I ended up giving birth, he spent the morning tell me what a fat, lazy pig I was. I sobbed. “I’m on bedrest. I’m not allowed to do wash or dishes. I’m barely allowed to get up and go to the bathroom.” It was not him that held my hand and kept me going. It was flowers from my Mom, visits from my then sister in law, phone calls from people who loved and cared about me. My Dad telling me it would be worth it in the end…keep “his” baby safe. When I went in, it was my cousin Julie who was there when they tried to turn the baby because he was breech not my husband. He didn’t have to witness the pain or hold my hand. He was still mulling around at work even though he was told it was an emergency delivery due to toxemia. 3 hours later he arrived and our son was born by c section. He left me that night in the hospital to go play a gig. Left me throwing up and alone.
Another time he told me he didn’t think he would ever love our child or connect with him. I was crushed. His words broke me in two having just given birth and dealing with his work schedule (12 hours a day) and being home alone while he played gigs on the weekends, I was at my wits end. I knew he was trying to provide for us but in the meantime, I was a single Mom, struggling with what I call environmental depression due to the constant verbal abuse and never getting a break.
I remember one time one of my son’s teachers needed to collect the containers with the lids that lunch meat came in. I told my ex that but he was mad at me and threw it out. I went to the garbage and said, “Please don’t do that, his teacher is collecting them. She needs each of the kids to bring in one for a project.” He started squealing. “Here piggy, piggy…dig through the garbage…get your little piggy nose in there….grubby hands and all…dig it out…piggy…” I just looked at him and took it to the sink to wash it. He went to the fridge and grabbed some lunch meat and shoved it in my face…”here…I want you to eat more piggy so you can get fatter.” It was one of the first times I stepped into his personal space and said in a whisper, as the kids were sleeping, that I would kill him if he talked to me like that again. He looked at me and said, “You’re a psycho bitch ya know that? What the hell is wrong with you?” I just walked away.
What people didn’t realize through my outgoing personality was that there were holes in my heart, and bruises they could not see. The verbal abuse that was inflicted on me on a daily basis was like a blow to the head every day. A punch full force to my stomach. Sometimes I would double over in pain and other times I would stand tall and go back in the ring. I went back for my kids. I knew I had to keep them close until they could defend themselves.
Here is the thing. My happy face was not a facade. I was genuinely a happy person until he was around. I was happy to be with my friends, helping with my kids school,hanging with my best friend, taking quilting classes etc. I was happy. I kept my emotional bank full with other things so that I could deal with what I had to at home. This is the single, most important thing I can share. Do what it takes to keep your own emotional bank full so that you can keep moving forward to a better place. I wasn’t successful every day but I was a lot more successful than I wasn’t successful and that in an of itself was enough to keep the smile on my face and my energy up to get my kids through whatever came our way at the hands of my abuser. He fought me every step of the way. “You need to be home more. No, you can’t have a computer. (so I started having my committees call me early in the morning while he was sleeping and simply said, “well, they send emails but have to call me”) He bought me a computer and a whole new world of connectedness opened up for me.
Keep yourself connected to the best of your ability and keep your emotional bank filled. It will get you through the hardest of times until that day comes when you can finally break free!