I didn’t leave because he was hurting me…

I didn’t leave because he was hurting me…

After my second child (my first in my second marriage) my husband began studying for his degree, as well as working full time. This led to a level of stress with which he simply could not cope, no time for his family and a lot of resentment towards me (everything was always my fault), and the slow unravelling of the twisted web of lies that was our life together.

My husband had always had an addictive personality, but so do many people who manage without great consequence so I didn’t feel any cause for concern. However, as the pressure began to mount without a healthy outlet, he began to depend on alcohol more and more to unwind. What started as a couple of beers after work, before the kids went to bed and he could concentrate, quickly became 6-8 beers and a couple of strong mixers to keep him awake as he sat alone into the night to get his assignments done. As he became more and more dependent on alcohol it became less about study and more about escape. Drinking was his release from the stresses of life. Soon his emotional escape became a physical one, he would return from work dump his bags and off to the pub he would go.

Every day I was left alone and baffled, there I was baby up jumper(Zebby our third had arrived un planned before Lily was even two), house a bomb site, toddler picking leaves of herbs as I tried to include her in cooking a gourmet hello fresh meal, he wouldn’t bother to eat but regardless, and a broken record of a seven-year-old enquiring how much longer it would be playing in the background.

I stood every day just the same, completely at a loss as to how a man that claimed to love his family could walk into this chaos and instead of helping, instead of taking over the dinner for 10 minutes so I could get the baby down, he was angry at me that this was what his life looked like…

That’s the thing I finally Learned about narcissists, they only care about how things LOOK not how they ARE! They would rather impress a stranger than be loved by their own family, and I just wasn’t built for that. So, I broke. One cold, heavy snow day in February we were trapped in the house together and I called time on our relationship.

Shortly after this I began the search for a marriage councillor that could help us find a way through the mess we were in, with the hope that one day with enough work our relationship could be restored. I found one and booked a consultation. I was so filled with hope that we were going together even driving in the same car. I thought this is it we are going to be okay, boy was I wrong! We argued right there in front of the head of the counselling program. He kept niggling me with all those comments narcissists are so skilled at, the ones that sound good to everyone else but are designed to hurt you and make you react so you look like the crazy one. I of course took the bait and was devastated when he then refused to attend counselling together and demanded we see separate councillors until I learned to be reasonable. Needless to say, my husband quit very soon after, but I stayed with my councillor and saw her weekly for several months.

.

It was during this time that I came to realise I had been abused. It seems ludicrous that I hadn’t known all along but these things start so subtly and you get into the habit of making excuses for their behaviour until in the end you don’t even realise that your hiding it from yourself. It started so small, nothing I said or did was good enough, he would comment on the smallest perceived flaw, and drag up my past as if it’s something I should be ashamed of. Slowly these things become more frequent and I was left feeling constantly wounded, ground down, emotionally beaten and torn, all the while he would swan about like God’s gift and how dare I be so ungrateful! As time went on, I stopped realising that he was violating my boundaries, that he didn’t care about my feelings or have any respect at all for the word NO!

I was left feeling unworthy and ashamed of who I am. Eventually my self esteem was shot and anxiety sparked over the tiniest of things I was a broken shell of a woman.

Narcissists often begin to subtly cross over into other forms of abuse you quickly learn that there’s no point saying no to sex, its far simpler and ultimately hurts less physically and emotionally to just do what they want, but its more than that. Narcissists often intersperse their abuse with periods of kindness, this was how my husband managed to be physically abusive without me even realising. It was when he was saying loving things and being sweet to me that he would also be holding me in a way that was painful and often bruised my arms to the point I was planning to see the doctor and have my blood checked. This is all part of how they condition you so that you become trauma bonded and feel like you need them and their abuse to be happy, so they keep you coming back for more. This went on for almost a year even after I had left my husband and we ended up getting back together for a few short months and you know what the first week was incredible but that’s all there was a week at most before things were nastier than ever culminating in him having a melt down on Christmas day that scared me and which I very much pandered to for the sake of my children but by new year’s day I had the strength I needed to leave again. This time for good.

I received streams of cruel and delusional, abusive messages for a long time afterwards to the point I was advised not to be home alone if he is picking up the kids. Then he would change tact and I’ll get messages saying he’s crying because he misses me – it’s not real – not a single word. Not the good ones or the bad ones, it’s all just part of the manipulation, that’s all there ever is.

I no longer receive these kind of messages very often but that’s because I’ve finally after 3 and a half years learned to identify when he is bating me and not give him what he wants but I still keep a file of evidence on my computer just incase. Even though I know all this and recognise what’s happening I still do what he wants more than I would like, slowly and I’m still not all the way there I am learning to archive his messages and not look at them, over analysing every word (because you can’t just block their number when you have kids together). I’m learning to set boundaries and he is learning to push them a little less. Little by little my confidence is coming back, I see friends more and do what I love, little by little I am growing strong and becoming the kind of woman sons can respect and daughter can look up to, and in all of this mess I am starting to learn how to manage not just my own trauma but how to face the on going issues it causes for my children, because that’s the thing the advice you find on online doesn’t cover how the hell do you break your trauma bonding and still co parent?

my husbands a rapist

Somebody referred to my (now ex) husband as a rapist recently and it shook me. It might seem crazy more than three years after I left but I had only considered my experience living with an abusive partner, you’d be surprised how big the leap feels between knowing you’ve been raped and considering your husband a rapist. 

The conversation progressed and I began to share my experiences with the couple of friends present. I was fine during the conversation but in the quiet afterward I could feel myself beginning to come undone so I said goodbye and cried all the way home. Now here I am trying to be a little braver, because those tears deserve a voice and because I am working so hard to overcome it all and not let this last chapter of my life define the core of who I am.

Sexual trauma is still triggering for me, its something I’ve had to really battle over recent years, and is not something I have as yet managed to overcome completely. I still haven’t found the courage required to date again after all this time own. But it isn’t the rape that haunts me its what comes with it, the coercive control, the way I learned to perform for him in spite of myself. Don’t get me wrong the first time your husband rapes you its a shock but you rationalise it, somehow convince yourself it didn’t happen or you imagined it or there was just some sort of miss-communication. And then he’s so sweet and loving over the next few days that you find yourself sweeping it under the rug, until it happens again, and again, that’s when the real damage begins it doesn’t start or end with the betrayal of being purposefully hurt by the person that’s supposed to protect you, its the way your behaviour changes until you think nothing of the way you constantly betray yourself. 

Its the way you realise firstly that’ll it’ll all be over so much quicker if you just don’t waste time saying no and its the way that develops as you learn to perform the right way, to move the right way, to do or say the right things to get it over and done with quicker. Until your sex life is essentially real life porn, there’s no connection, no intimacy, no trust there’s just you performing, trying to be enough that you don’t have to hear how its your fault, how your so boring he has to make up for your inadequacies and so for your own sake you make sure its good enough to get the job done as quickly as possible so you can get to the part where you lock the bathroom door and try to clean your skin hard enough to scrub away the shame. 

Coercion is subtle, its comments made to sound like compliments but that hurt like hell, comparision’s to ex lovers or pornography while you’re still in the middle of it, It wasn’t until very recently, that I realised just how messed up that was, both the idea that I was supposed to take those kind of things as compliments and that he was making sure I knew he was thinking about someone else while he was with me. All I knew at the time was that it hurt, I don’t know if I couldn’t or wouldn’t process all the little things. Probably it was little bit of both. But eventually I stopped having hope and accepted that these words were coming no matter how much I tried to please him and I learned to survive them and so many others, and I could get up and walk to the bathroom without looking back as I tried to block out the words and stop the tears from falling. 

If I were you I’d be thinking ‘if it was so bad why didn’t you just leave’ and you’d have a point but once in a blue moon it wasn’t vile, it wasn’t cruel it was poetry and he was made out of magic and that’s what kept me holding on. When you’re caught in the thick of it its so easy to forget that magic is just a fancy name for illusion. I didn’t stay for how violated I felt after he made me rape myself I stayed for the broken man that climbed into my scalding hot bathtub and sat soaking wet in his pyjamas crying over how sorry he was, mostly I 

stayed for the unshakable belief that he was right and all of this was my fault.

The Losing Game

Wow, you’re sexy for an older reader! Catch what I did there? I ran game on you. 

I made you feel good about yourself by undermining you. Depending what I went on to discuss you may have gone away still thinking – I AM pretty sexy for my age, and where’s the harm in that? Except it is harmful. I’m not only playing on insecurities you might have about the way your body is changing as you get older but its also the perpetuation of the cultural belief that ageing is unsexy. It’s a manipulation designed to make you more prone to bad decision making. If I was trying to sleep with you I’d have massively improved my odds by simultaneously making you feel both sexy and like a ticking time bomb the clocks about to run out on.

In 2005 an investigative journalist, frustrated with his own love life joined a community of “romantic” players to learn how to get women into bed. The resulting book ‘The Game’ rather than reading like an exposé became a best selling dating handbook, in which men were taught how to gain the upper hand.

Women’s rights have improved massively in the past 120 years. We have this newly empowered ‘we can do anything men can do and do it bleeding’ attitude. We work like men, dress like men, thanks to the Shewee we can even pee like men, and most importantly in the context of this article – if we want to, we can have sex like men, and if we really want to save time we can have sex without men, with no make up, wearing our intensely comfortable, ugly pyjamas before making a cuppa and binge watching Netflix.

Then comes this book and instead of teaching men to form partnerships, uplift and empower women, its reinforcing all the insecurities women have after years of oppression and lousy product marketing telling us we aren’t enough, it fortifies the idea that women exist for sexual gratification, it teaches men to identify physical attributes a woman could be self conscious about and exploit them to make her more susceptible to sexual advances.

I get it with my hair – wow you’re beautiful for a ginger / its not for everyone but I’ve always had a thing for a feisty read head, or possibly my favourite, you know when they lean in really close like they’re letting you on in a secret and tell you they know that red heads are freaky between the sheets and that its okay because they like it, as if its shameful to be a bit kinky or as if the colour of my hair in any way determines my sexual preferences. I also get “oh you’re so tiny I could keep you in my pocket” and I’m like was that a compliment or a threat? Because it would not be the first time I’ve been carried away from my friends by a complete stranger – which I assume comes under the chapter on isolating the target. 

The overarching problem with this technique is that it leaves everyone feeling alone. It seems shocking now but this is a book that was liked by 87% of readers on Goodreads, and has a 5/5 rating from Waterstones, and its not just damaging women its damaging men! We are living in a time where the leading cause of death in men between 35 and 49 is suicide.

It’s based on the idea that people can be beneath you, you’d be ‘dating down’ or ‘punching above your weight’. Are we not each of us just flesh and bones trying to hold a heart together? Can you truly believe that a person’s looks or job elevates them? It also works on the assumption that everybody has the same physical preferences. She’s really fit so she won’t like me – why not? you’ve never even spoken to her how could you know? It also discredits the possibility that sexual attraction for women especially, has less to do with physical appearance and more to do with chemistry, one of my exes was six feet tall, the rest wouldn’t let me wear heels, nor for the possibility that that intelligence or a sense of humour is sexy, I’ve asked on instagram and you know what’s REALLY sexy…

Kindness!

By creating a dating handbook designed to undermine a woman’s self esteem we inadvertently have a generation of men believing that being themselves isn’t good enough, its taught them the only way a woman will pay them attention is if they trick her. There may be a temporary high that comes with initial sexual success but this prolonged behaviour means we find ourselves in a society where everyone feels cheated and damaged, putting up walls that cut them off from feeling vulnerable and establishing real human connection.

I can’t tell you I have some genius way to fix it, I don’t. But what if the next time it happens you let him know that running game won’t work, then pay him a genuine compliment. Even if he’s not your type you can find one thing to say. You walk away feeling empowered and he feels noticed. Then maybe the next time he approaches someone he simply says “hey I noticed you from across the room and I’d really like to talk, can I buy you a drink?” maybe people start paying attention to the details of each other, maybe they don’t have to ‘blast last minute reservations’ and maybe at the end of it all we develop a culture where we feel valued enough for it to be safe enough to just walk home.

Conversational Poetry

” its been a long time”

he said,

“the years have changed you”

” I like it, I really like it”

then he pulled me close,

brushed the hair from my eyes

& kissed me till I knew how much.

Louise Alexandra Erskine

“if you were just a little closer”

he said

“I’d fall for you so hard”

“then its just as well I’m here”

I replied

“because if I was meant for you

you’d love me exactly where I am”

Louise Alexandra Erskine

standing awkwardly beside him

tension building in the air

making small talk & failing miserably

until I asked

“when are you going to stop wasting these stars and kiss me?”

he responded softly

first with his lips

then with his tongue,

communication was never a problem after that.

Louise Alexandra Erskine

Captured

It was all there

I could see it in his eyes

standing so close

I was art

as he painted me with his lens

every eyelash, every freckle

the light dancing in my eyes

a fire burning in his

he pulled the beauty from my darkness

andI stood before him

not just photographed,

captured.

Louise Alexandra Erskine

Butterfly Resurrection

honestly she wasn’t sure how she felt

or was she was ready for

but when she walked beside him

she felt a quiet gentle fluttering in her stomach

as though, just maybe

not all the butterflies were dead

Louise Alexandra Erskine

those little flecks of golden light

shining in your eyes

they are enough to illuminate

even my darkest places

Louise Alexandra Erskine

without ever knowing it

he had taught her heart to beat again

Louise Alexandra Erskine

he took her to bed

and for the first time

she knew

how the sun feels each morning

as it rises in the sky

Louise Alexandra Erskine

it wasn’t the climb she was afraid of

it was the fall

Louise Alexandra Erskine

the walls were high

and time moved slowly

but brick by brick

he stayed long enough to take them down

and what he found there

took his breath away

Louise Alexandra Erskine

You and I

I had never believed two souls could be one

then there was you

Louise Alexandra Erskine

and his feet

danced

to the rhythm of her

heart

Louise Alexandra Erskine

just a broken girl searching for all of her pieces

that’s how I found you

how I understood your soul

and why it still hurts

watching you search for your own broken fragments

in all the wrong places

finding nothing

travelling so far in the wrong direction

you can’t even hear me

calling to you

it’s safer if we search together

Louise Alexandra Erskine

he looked at her

and as their eyes met

her troubles fell into the sea

Louise Alexandra Erskine

the sea, the sky

the way my heart feels when you are near

some things

are too beautiful

to be destroyed with understanding

Louise Alexandra Erskine

Without change there would be no butterflies

Without the dark we would never see the stars

Without you I didn’t fall apart

Louise Alexandra Erskine

The Storm Inside

She was powerless

standing in the face of the storm

so she simply surrendered

watched it roll on in

& loved him till it passed

Louise Alexandra Erskine

you & I

two of the darkest thunder clouds to find their way together

feeding of each others pain

energy filled particles colliding

there was always going to be one hell of a storm

but

my God the lightening we made was spectacular

Louise Alexandra Erskine

The thunder may never have hurt anyone

but beware

the lightning that follows burns like hell

Louise Alexandra Erskine

Sipping whisky in the moonlight with him

calming the storm in her

Louise Alexandra Erskine

There are two ways to survive a storm

batten down the hatches, remain beneath it

and wait for it to pass in its own time

or

rise above it where the skies are clear

Louise Alexandra Erskine

I didn’t see it at the time

I was too lost inside the storm

but you were my lighthouse

illuminating those thundering skies

shining

keeping me safe

&

leading me home

Louise Alexandra Erskine

All of the Ocean

poetry collection

He was all of the Ocean

and she was drowning in a single drop

Louise Alexandra Erskine

Take me beyond the break water

let me dive beneath the surface

swimming through your ocean

until exhausted

I wash upon the sand

Louise Alexandra Erskine

She was alone

Lost out at sea

&

broken by the storm

But

As each wave battered her

It bought her closer to the shore

Louise Alexandra Erskine

He was her Ocean

She was his Moon

&

Together they changed the Tide

Louise Alexandra Erskine

Meet me at the shoreline

let the ocean kiss our feet

Take me by the hand

& lead me

My naked soul

Cleansed in the water with you

Louise Alexandra Erskine

Safe in your harbour

I forgot

A ship belongs on the ocean

Louise Alexandra Erskine

Love and the Night sky

the thing she came to love about

darkness

was the way it allowed the stars to

shine

Louise Alexandra Erskine

fingers travelling down my spine

slow hands

fast breathing

the night sky isn’t the only reason I can see the

stars

Louise Alexandra Erskine

for all the people that looked at the

darkness

in you and were scared

I hope you know

that when I looked at you

all I ever saw was the stars

Louise Alexandra Erskine

under the clear night sky

the heartbreak felt exquisite

Louise Alexandra Erskine

she came to love the night

for it was under the cover of darkness

she could let her heart see his

ghost

Louise Alexandra Erskine

she carried too much darkness

but he was starlight

and felt at home there

where he could truly shine

Louise Alexandra Erskine