All I deserve

My relationship looks sort of like this if it were charted into days:


How on earth did I ever choose this life?  All those years ago, what was I thinking?  In this insane pattern, how much did I believe deep down inside that he’d never leave me?  Did I sense this? Know this somehow?  Is that part of what attracted me? 

In the beginning, there were warning signs.  To be fair, I was so young and didn’t know how to interpret them.   Also, I was conditioned by some family of origin stuff to navigate what would have had a healthier person walking away. 

I grew up knowing I was an unplanned child, that I came at a bad time, and failed from the get-go because I was born a girl instead of a boy.  This doesn’t mean I wasn’t loved, or that I was mistreated.  My parents, products of their own painful lives, gave the best they could, and as they fought through a terribly unhealthy and incompatible marriage, they also fought to give their kids love, and a good home.  They went without and didn’t complain, they worked, and the years of desperately good intentions flew by.  I don’t blame them, because where would the blame stop? 

The objective bad part is that I grew up feeling I had to earn a place in the family.  I was the last born that added another body to an already tippy boat in rocky waters.  I had older sisters, and one brother, the golden favorite child who could do no wrong.  This meant that no matter what I did, no matter what I achieved, no matter what I accomplished, it was unmarked and unnoticed, ‘lest it somehow detract from him.  It meant being invisible in many ways.  So ah yes, one of the cardinal rules I learned:  Don’t make anyone feel bad.  Even if it means neglecting yourself, or ignoring your own needs and talents.

When I met my husband, my life was in some chaos, and I was trying to figure out a plan to recover it.  My parents had moved away from where I grew up to out in the rural boonies.   I was trying to understand why my first love (whose parents didn’t approve of me) had married someone else, yet said he still loved me. 

My plan included going to college.  I’ll never know what might have been, because I met my husband. He  pursued me fast and intensely, and almost immediately suggested we should marry.  He vowed that it would be his priority in life to support me and share my dream of going to college.  (in reality, he continually sabotaged and put up road blocks to my getting an education.) That sounded good, and after all, he was just about to graduate from college, so it seemed sensible.  But those disturbing incidents… the warning signs.

Was that the problem?  Deep inside, did I believe that a healthier person would leave me?  That a healthier man wouldn’t love the intrinsically flawed and imperfect me?  An amazing young man had already left me and married someone… more deserving? 

So now this handsome, funny, sweet, charismatic, about to graduate from college young man has declared everlasting love, has told me I’m beautiful, that he doesn’t want to change one thing about me, that he doesn’t care if I smoke or that I don’t know how to cook or that I’m not interested in ‘keeping house’… and he loves me?  Why did I believe it? 

Why did I believe it?  After all, I didn’t believe it about myself.

When the warning signs occurred, did I just accept it as part of the package because This is all I deserve?

Even if the negative messages about ourselves are buried and subliminal, they’re probably there. Whether it’s the intensity of his need/love that plays to our insecurity, or the familiarity of being treated negatively, being neglected, being invalidated, being invisible etc., something strums an exquisitely resonant and familiar chord within us.

It obviously did for me.

This is why I’m fighting to focus on learning to love myself.  When I’m so sad and tired, it’s so easy to believe this is all I deserve.

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14 Responses to All I deserve

  1. mel220 says:

    Wow this resonates so much with me. I know this is a big reason why I married my abuser. I felt I only deserved to be with someone as damaged as I was.


  2. chosetobehappy says:

    Mine too proposed after a very short period of time. He actually convinced me that I wanted to marry him. At the time, I was a bit insulted but looking back now, I appreciated being pursued and I felt like a Queen because he put me on a pedestal. Of course now I know that they do this to set you up for a fall and for the disturbing pattern of pulling you in and pushing you back. I remember begging him to love me, God how I hated what I had become in such a short period of time. The strong woman that I was before had become a messed up little broken bird. I didn’t recognize myself, still don’t fully comprehend who I am at this point many years later. It doesn’t help that I am in the relationship still. I’m glad that you are focusing on yourself, it’s the only thing that will give you the strenght to get out. I started a few years back, and it’s taking a long time (more than I would like) but I figure that at some point, I will be able to just say goodbye.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely remember thinking “he’s got issues but this is my only chance to have a relationship.” I blame myself for being young and stupid. Now I feel like damaged goods: if someone so messed up withdrew from me, that means I’m no good, and so someone better would never want me.


    • Enough Already says:

      All that you are sharing here, this wisdom and experience, is helping so many (myself included).

      Will you all share some of the “early warning signs” you experienced with your PAHs?


      • chosetobehappy says:

        There are so many which I didn’t notice until much later but the first one that I remember is him asking me to marry him 2 weeks after we started to date…. and the second one was the moodiness and the third, the silent treatment. I should have also noticed that I was always the one “choosing” the type of date to go on and then settling for something more to his liking.


  4. livingthelie says:

    I think that’s one of the common threads, a base feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness. I’m reading a book called The Gift of Imperfection and the author has another one called Men, Women & Worthiness that I’ll be reading next. I am determined to find the place where I can love myself and feel like I am “enough” without needing someone else (especially pah) to validate me.

    I also identify with your family of origin issues. I chose pah because he was “safe.” His almost obsessive love for me would secure that he would never leave me. I too was coming off the heels of a broken relationship with a man I deeply loved (who left me without explanation). I never felt loved or accepted by my family either — I had to be perfect or I was belittled and rejected. I was in that dark self loathing place when I met pah. In my youthful ignorance and wanting to believe, I overlooked all the red flags. I kept thinking, “if I just ____ then he will ____” where each of my blanks was an act of love and devotion to try to yield the same back from him. Has never happened.

    It’s the same roller coaster ride you described. Things are sorta OK, at least I convince myself they are, but then inevitably there comes the fall and I hit bottom. We had a fairly decent weekend which wants to lull me into false hope. But I know the fall will come, it always does.


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      The Gift of Imperfection sounds intriguing!


    • Exodus says:

      “I am determined to find the place where I can love myself and feel like I am “enough” without needing someone else (especially pah) to validate me.”

      Try to remember that G-d created you and therefore other people’s good or bad opinions of you don’t matter. It helped me to imagine myself as perfect as I was the day I was born before everyone and every institution claimed me as their own. I even changed my name slightly ( go by my middle name now) to help establish and reinforce my new identity.

      It sounds like you’ve been conditioned to withdraw from your own needs like I was by my mother. Your name reminds me of a book called ” Children of the Lie”- a very good book. That book actually explained my fear of spiders. I have severe arachnophobia to the point that I cannot leave my house if I see a spider and I won’t be able to eat for days if I see a particular one. It’s not as severe as it was a few years ago but, I figured out that I had displaced my fear or dislike of my mother onto spiders as a kid.

      You may be interested in a book called, ” Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” by Karyl McBride.


  5. Exodus says:

    As you know, P/A abusers do all they can to block any progress in your life and in your relationship with them. Sometimes, as in the case of my marriage, their attempts can become dangerous.

    I tried going back to college in 03 on HIS (caring, concerned) advice. The only reason my husband is ever nice and thoughtful toward me and I mean, the ONLY reason, is so that he can build his resume of kind gestures to tell/show everyone else.

    Anyway, he made sure that I was constantly interrupted while studying and even during exams with silly things like ‘ do we have any milk, where’s the ketchup, look at this picture that I took today’. At other times he would say things like, ‘Why do you have to do that NOW….I don’t have time to sit on my ass all day and read books. I don’t have the luxury of learning anything new or making friends…all I do is make money for you to spend’. Everything I’ve ever tried to do was turned into a miserable task and or used against me. I finally surrendered and now I’m his favorite submissive zombie.

    I was told a few years ago by a therapist that should I pursue anything for myself that I must under no circumstances ever tell him about any of it. She told me to keep everything a secret…school, visiting the library, exercising, dieting, joining a club, saving money….must be kept secret.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DotedOn says:

      That’s what I did… keep the secret. Because as soon as he saw me enjoying something, he would do anything to prevent it or change it. I’m moving out in a few weeks and only yesterday I showed signs of happiness (and I’m kind of regretting it today).


      • Exodus says:

        Thank goodness you’re moving out! I’m so happy for you! I’m moving out too. I’m not showing any signs of happiness but mainly just because I’m sad about everything. Don’t misunderstand..I’m glad that I’m leaving. I’m just sad about the whole damn situation. Well, it’s probably better to act like your sad or act like this is such a hardship on you. That way he will avoid you. My husband won’t help me if I’m doing something that he knows I’m struggling with and in fact will go into another room or outside just to avoid me.

        My husband is now in total denial and when he sees me packing he asks what I’m doing and then asks me why I’m doing it. He’s very good at denial like his mother. They have very strange brains that seem to reflect a damaged frontal lobe.


        • DotedOn says:

          I’m glad you are moving too! I understand the part of being sad… I was very sad too, the disappointment is big because probably we had big expectations. In my case I feel like I wasted too many years of my life, that I didn’t deserve to be treated like that, that there is a big chance that my boys treat their women the way their dad treated me, etc etc..

          I wrote a post today about how helpful he was with me yesterday (arranging things for the move, I’ll be moving with my kids across the border, 20 miles away). Today, it’s like he went two years back and thinks that we can work things out and me leaving is a big mistake and that I’m going to regret it, but that his door is always open and that I have no idea how much he loves me… I only said ok, because I know that tomorrow he’ll shout at me that he can’t wait for me to leave, or that I was the worse thing that happened to him… Those kind of things hurt me terribly in the past. Now I filter every comment. And hide every sign of excitement because I know what will happen next. He’ll never change, but I will, I’m not allowing him to hurt me anymore…

          I’m glad he kicked me out when he did because at that moment I saw a door open and decided to leave. You can read about how it happened in this post if you like

          And I left him two years ago but we shared the house. I wrote in this post about the day I said enough… Those two posts pretty much explain it all.

          Every situation is different, but still, reading all the posts and comments, it seems that we all married the same man…

          Try not to be sad, you are not alone. Smile (even if you have to sneak out to do it :)).


          • WritesinPJ's says:

            “Those kind of things hurt me terribly in the past. Now I filter every comment. And hide every sign of excitement because I know what will happen next.”

            I understand that!


            • DotedOn says:

              I’m so sorry it’s that way!!
              I still wonder why? It’s difficult for me to understand or accept how someone who’s supposed to love you can do that to you…


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