The constant and never-ending struggle to understand why he can be so cruel, insidious verbal abusive with just a hint of physical behavior – like shoving, when he swore he loved so much and putting on a “Mr. Wonderful” act to the outside world that no one would possibly ever believed me if I had complained. Once when I did, one of my family member remarked that if someone said he would shoot at you doesn’t necessarily imply that he will shoot you. Ah, how appropriate a remark from a father of two married daughters? Well, my problem is mine alone to solve so I have learnt and I alone had to take a stand!
Barely engaged for few weeks, “Mr. Wonderful” was verbally and emotionally abusive when we were alone, and at times in public. He would scream at the top of his lungs over something insignificant. Sometimes he would instigate a situation…he would take an innocent situation and create an anger outburst in order to confuse me. He created situations on purpose where he could have an excuse/reason to turn the situation around to blame me and that if you had only done something different, this never would have happened. He would accuse me of pushing his buttons in a situation in order to deflect me from seeing that he was intentionally manipulating me and pushing my buttons. He didn’t take responsibility for his behavior but instead he wanted me to believe that I caused his behavior.
I looked like the “problem” because I “nagged” him and refused to accept the behaviors that his family and friends he knew couldn’t even see. My pent-up anger came out in subtle snide remarks or tiffs that only served to make me look worse to the ears of those who didn’t understand the “crazy-making behaviors” I was enduring. He convinced me that his kind of behavior is normal, and that I am being irrational to expect to be treated otherwise…that I was the one who was crazy and the way I was treated was justified.
He was an expert at “Perpetrator Flip”. He was trying to slowly destroy me by sticking millions of sharp needles into my balloon, one at a time, until my balloon was finally deflated. My balloon never deflated even though I felt frustrated.
How was I suppose to know if “Mr. Wonderful” is changing for real or is just pretending to change? Was he really changing when he’d be in one of his “I’m so sorry” cycles to become the wonderful guy I was convinced was in there somewhere? But he never followed through with his promises to actually make the changes that were necessary to stop the destructive cycle in our relationship. And I couldn’t make sense of the little bullying signs that inevitably would escalate.
And there I was, unilaterally trying to change my behavior in hopes he will change too. Probably “Mr. Wonderful” was often conditioned from an early age to feel entitled to be a privileged character in relationships or who was abused/somehow damaged in his past, and thus essentially given a pass to be vicious. One common double standard was that “Mr. Wonderful” was allowed to express anger in the relationship, but not me. I rationalized and somehow justified or downplayed his actions. He demeaned and confused me intentionally in order to make me doubt myself and my own perceptions…for clear and concrete gain – power and control – and he was generally unmotivated to change. He thought less of me and therefore treated me that way. He was not as enigmatic and deep as I thought he was.
Many a nights I would question myself “what am I doing wrong?” in the quest of searching for an answer that will help me to make my relationship better. In order to stand up to him, I shouldn’t have appealed to his self-interest or his softer side but I must have made demands to let him know that I am worth it and my feelings are valid. Gosh, what was I thinking? I was so blindly in love with “Mr. Wonderful”. I desperately wanted to make it work and believed prayer and my “convincing” him of the error of his ways, would make a difference.
Amidst all this, I was missing one strong point…my own accountability. I stayed…I chose to stay. It is freeing to look within myself instead of pointing fingers, I should ask the question “why did I stay?” and not “what was I doing wrong?”.
I learnt that I can’t love enough to get him to change, but I could have loved myself enough to make the changes I needed to make. The minute I thought that both of us are getting closer and growing together, he pulled the rug. It made me realize whose problem it really was, why it was never going to get better, how unlikely it was that he was going to change, and how I was unable to see through the ‘hearts and flowers’ stage. He will never change, but will just move on to the next unsuspecting woman who will believe his lies of how poorly I treated “him”.
This brief chapter in my life will have a lingering effect on me. I have to own my part in choosing such a partner. I’m grateful we were not together long…barely engaged for few weeks after knowing each other for 3 months. However, I sincerely thank “Mr. Wonderful” in unimaginable ways for taking a turn I didnt expect by ending the relationship and letting me go.