Waving the White Flag
A few weeks after meeting the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) – about 2 months after filing for divorce – I wrote this:
I want to throw in the towel. I want to give up. I know I was in this exact same space last week and I’m there again. This sucks. I feel like I can’t even take care of my kids. I’ve had $175 worth of co-pays in the past two weeks along with more gas money than I can shake a stick at. Tonight I have the overwhelming urge to call Bubba and just talk to him. About nothing, about everything. I want a husband dammit. I want the man I had myself convinced he was. I hate that he did this to me, to us, to the kids. I hate that the legal system is allowing him to continue doing it. I don’t miss him. I miss the idea of him, the potential of him, the man he *should* have been.
I’m so sick of being afraid of everything. I want to feel safe. I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe again. I want to curl up in a strong man’s arms and let him make it all go away. Up until a few months ago, I thought that man was Bubba and my mind knows that Bubba will never be that man, but my heart still longs for him to get struck by a lightning bolt from God, get amnesia and then think he is a nice man. Realistically, I know that even if that did happen, I could never let him touch me again. I know this. Then why do I feel like this? Is it just because I’m scared?
I fought so long and so hard not to hate him. I don’t want to have any feelings for him at all. I hate what he is doing to me and to the kids. I hate what he did to our marriage. But I still feel overwhelming pity for him. He is sick. But he is choosing to stay sick. And it pisses me off.
But tonight, I want to call the man I thought he was and just cry and tell him that we can figure this out. And it just is ripping me apart that I know that it isn’t possible. I guess part of me wants him to realize what he’s doing, call me, and say, “I know you want a divorce and I’ll give you whatever you want because I know I’ve hurt you and this is what you need. I love you more than you could ever know and I’ll do what it takes to prove that. I’ll let you go. I’ll take care of you and the kids until you can take care of yourself.”
Yes, I live in Fantasy Land. I still think I might be going crazy. I’m sitting here doubting my sanity again. Thinking maybe it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. Maybe I’ve inflated it in my mind because I just selfishly don’t want to be married anymore. But I saw the terror in my kids’ eyes. I know they are afraid of him. I know I’m not inflating this. Yet, I doubt….
This is what can happen after years of psychological abuse. I was continually questioning my reality. In that one journal entry I wanted Bubba to be the man I’d convinced myself he was throughout the years we were together even though I knew it wasn’t possible. I was convinced I was going crazy all the while knowing that I absolutely wasn’t.
This is why abusers usually keep their victims right where they want them – victims don’t know what is reality and what is their own insanity. We aren’t really insane but we start believing it when our abusers tell us that we are. They keep us off balance because an off-balance woman is so busy trying to find equilibrium that she will not look outside of herself and her abuser for validation.
I can’t tell you how often I wanted to wave that white flag. There were so many times when I just wanted it all to go away. I wanted the fighting to end. I wanted a marriage. I wanted the man I created three children with to love me enough that he would WANT to change and get healthy. I could clearly see that he’d chosen a different road and that we could no longer travel together. It saddened me and infuriated me by turns.
At this point, I was still terrified. I knew that the GAL was working on our case so I had to be completely above-board. I felt that I couldn’t make any mistakes. Having her watching over me was almost worse than living with Bubba. One misstep could mean the loss of my children. I had to maintain my life and behavior as close to perfection as I could.
There were days that the only thing that kept me going was Luke. We were still texting and flirting and I was thinking about being able to talk to him on the phone and possibly even seeing him once the divorce was finalized. I was fully expecting the divorce to take years to get through. Bubba was fighting me by just flat-out refusing to consider any kind of settlement. Having Luke there, being supportive and understanding, showing me that caring men did really exist, meant the world to me. He gave me the strength to carry on – even when I had what I ended up calling “White Flag Days.” A friend would ask, “How are you doing?” and I’d say, “I’m having a White Flag kind of day.” and she’d know exactly what I meant.
I was talking about having yet another White Flag Day (WFD) with a group of friends and one of them commented that I seemed to have WFDs immediately following a huge leap in my healing. I thought about it and realized that she had a point! Every time I tackled a new issue and overcame it, I’d follow that up with a WFD. It was almost as if, on a subconscious level, the healing scared me. Once she pointed that out, I began to expect WFDs after a jump in healing and it made getting through them much easier.
If you’ve gotten out of an abusive situation and still think about going back, please know that it is a normal thing to want what you thought you had, what you wanted to have, and to yearn for what you didn’t have. Also know that if you choose to go back after leaving (which is absolutely your choice because you are a competent person able to make your own decisions), the abuse will almost certainly escalate.
Again, in order to make a decision, you must have all the information. The likely escalation in abuse is a vital piece to consider. White Flag Days are normal and a decision should not be made if you are having one.