People just don’t understand… no one gets [me]

People with anxiety don’t have a train of thought. They have seven trains on four tracks that narrowly avoid each other when paths cross, and all the conductors are screaming.

Every day is a challenge because you’re battling with yourself to go out and be social. You talk yourself into going to Happy Hour or a birthday party or that date you keep wanting to say yes to. It’s as if the devil is on one shoulder and the angel is on the other. When the angel finally wins, it’s amazing. You have a great time with friends and family and being out of the house, but then…the devil takes over.

You start wondering “What’s wrong with me?” “Is this my anxiety?” “Am I depressed?” “Will I ever be happy?”

Anxiety – Memory Loss… is there a link?

Have you ever had that feeling where you’re in a fog and you’re unable to recall anything from your past, even if it was from last week or even the other day? Ever had the inability to think clearly?

Welcome to life with extreme anxiety.

A chemical imbalance of any kind throws everything off. This is also true when it comes to anxiety. Our brain chemistry produces a stress response known as the fight-or-flight response when experiencing high levels of anxiety. Increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol are released and if it happens too frequently, the brain can become exhausted causing memory loss. Research shows that people with extreme anxiety have lost memories and could be a possible coping mechanism to forget traumatic incidents to prevent further instances of anxiety or emotional harm. Mental health clinicians say anxiety can cause memory loss since it is an incredibly unpleasant emotion, and memory loss allows us to put off dealing with a negative event in an attempt to limit future instances of anxiety.

If you have ever experienced this, you know it can feel disorienting and scary not to remember. Recognizing the loss and feeling that follows is critical to physical, mental, and emotional rehabilitation.

Dealing with trauma, anxiety and memory loss is not easy. Speaking with a therapist may be a good idea to help talk through your anxiety and memory loss, develop coping skills to deal with the issues in the future.

You’re trying your hardest, but it doesn’t seem to be working

Ever since your ex said “we need to talk,” you have been trying to process, grasp and grieve. No matter what you try, you seem to end up back at the beginning. Taking one step forward only to put you two steps back when making progress.

You’re trying your hardest, all the time, to push through

  • the pain
  • the exhaustion and fatigue
  • the fog and dyscognition
  • the insomnia
  • the fear
  • the guilt
  • the judgement
  • the relentlessness of it all

but the darkness overshadows the light at the end of the tunnel.

More often than not, especially within the last month, you find yourself wanting to stay in bed or lie on the couch vs going outside. You have zero motivation to start your day early and go to the gym or even shower at a proper time. Your days sometimes don’t even start until after noon and often times end at nine or ten in the evening, maybe even earlier. Since you have nowhere to go and no one to see, what’s the point.

You were in charge of your family finances, or so your ex had you believe

My story:

When my ex-husband and I got engaged he suggested we start a joint account to save for the wedding. While I didn’t 100% agree with him and countered with opening up a separate individual savings account to do the same thing, we ended up opening the joint account. Little did I know, this was only the beginning to him controlling everything.

An “x” amount of my paycheck was to go in the joint account monthly as well as any commissions I earned. However, the balance wasn’t equal because he never earned any commissions or holiday bonus. So any money we spent from that account for the wedding/honeymoon, was my hard earned money. Meaning this was just a glimpse into what the next ten years of our lives would be together.

After college, I was very fortunate to land a job in a highly desirable industry that paid very well in salary and commission, which made me the bred winner of the family. My ex-husband was not happy about it at all and tended to show it mostly in front of friends and family. What I find the most interesting, is he never held a credit card in his name until after filing for divorce. All of the credit cards were in my name and he was an authorized user. When we bought a house, the loan was ran with my credit history. When he bought a car I had to be a co-signer because I had better credit. I knew his credit was terrible because of his student loans and his car loan, but what is even worse…is that I paid every single debt of his off because of our joint checking and savings account. What did he pay off of mine? NOTHING…I have zero debt.

The worse part is that I never enjoyed one single commission I earned over my eleven year career in that industry. Every time I received a commission it went to upgrading the kitchen or putting up a fence for the dogs, buying him a gun safe and guns to fill it (side note: this was a punishment and scare tactic since I never wanted them in the house), buying him a new professional camera, buying him a Surface Pro, buying him a new TV/stereo system/gaming system, etc. Only once did I buy something for myself and that was when the guns came in to the house.

Our checking and savings account should have been huge based on my salary and commissions, but he somehow made sure to find a reason to spend money. He had me create a budget and track everything down to the cent. Now, you’re probably thinking this is just smart and you would be correct, but he would use it to punish me and criticize me anytime we were over budget in any area no matter what it was. Even if he was the one that over spent, it was my fault.

As our marriage neared the end and I knew the papers were shortly going to be served, my ex-husband’s spending became outrageous. He was buying accessories for his truck that were absurd (I’m not talking floor mats, I’m talking a special grill and stuff), started collecting special addition albums (records to play on a record player) and old gaming systems for a”game room”. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if he was a Beverly Hills housewife that didn’t know what to do with her time and money. The thing is, it wasn’t just his money. It was my money too and he would shut me down and belittle me any time I tried to say something. He was purposely spending the money so I would have nothing after the divorce.

While I have money and am thankful for what I have, I fear for how I am going to take care of myself if I don’t find a job soon. My office closed unexpectedly in June and I haven’t been able to land a job yet. I wasn’t able to get alimony because my ex-husband threatened to take my entire 401K and our checking and savings. My lawyer suggested I settle for what I ended up getting, which also meant ex-husband got away with everything. He got away with all the abuse and pain he caused for 14 years, and I am left struggling to support myself financially, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Financial Abuse… that’s a thing?

When someone hears the words “domestic abuse” they associate it with physical abuse or verbal abuse. The truth is, financial abuse occurs just as frequently and is often the first sign of dating violence and domestic abuse.

A study by the Centers for Financial Security found that 99% of domestic violence cases also involved financial abuse. The abuser controls his/her victim’s ability to acquire, use and maintain financial resources. The victim may even be prevented from working. Often times their own income is restricted or stolen by their abuser, and they rarely have complete access to money and other resources.

While the forms of financial abuse vary by situation, the goal is always the same – to gain power and control in a relationship. An abuser may use subtle tactics such as manipulation, or they may be more overt, demanding and intimidating. Making financial abuse one of the most powerful methods of keeping a victim trapped in an abusive relationship.

Serena Williams Urges Women To ‘Know the Signs’ Of Financial Abuse
“It’s not easy for women to get up and leave. I’ve grown to understand that.”

‘To end the cycle of abuse, we must have meaningful conversations to shine a light on how financial abuse traps victims,’ says Woman’s Day Magazine. Financial insecurity is the top reason women either return to an abusive partner or aren’t able to end the relationship. Victims feel inadequate and unsure of themselves leaving them vulnerable to more abuse and violence. The financial dependence trap creates isolation leaving victims financially dependent on their abusers with no resources for a safe way out.

Control, Verbal Abuse and Violence

There is a stigma with domestic violence that has been around since before any of us were put on Earth. It is an enormous problem made difficult to see because those of us who are victims hide it, and also because it is hard to understand why those claiming to be close to us, end up being our abusers.

The myths that hang over victims such as “she brought it on herself” or “co-dependent” or “she provoked him” all obscure the truth.

Domestic violence is control of one human being by another. It begins with verbal abuse and is similar to mind control. The abuser attack’s his/her victim’s spirit and sense of self in an attempt to create self doubt. The phrases often used include

  • “You don’t have a sense of humor”
  • “You can’t take a joke”
  • “You’re too sensitive”
  • “You’re crazy”
  • “What’s wrong with you” (the one I heard too often for many different scenarios

Women (more so than men) who have left a verbally abusive relationship find themselves wondering “Maybe there’s something I could have done” or “Maybe if I’d tried to explain better” because of the mind games verbal abuse causes. Often women who find themselves the target of controlling behaviors can’t comprehend that anyone would want to control them, so they try to be nice. However…

IT DOESN’T WORK!

DID YOU IGNORE THE RED FLAGS? YOU’RE NOT ALONE

My story:

I have been going back and forth on whether or not to launch this blog. Not because I don’t want to share my story, but because I am terrified of being judged for what I’ve been through and even more terrified my abusers will find me.

For 18 years I hid behind a mask so no one could see the true pain I was feeling. It was easier than dealing with the truth because I myself didn’t even understand what was going on. I mean, how could someone who says they love you treat you so poorly. I was convinced it was all in my head and the depression and anxiety were just something else.

As I start looking back, I can’t help but start seeing the truth and the pain these two men inflicted. Since high school, a man has been telling me who I could and could not be friends with. Went with me to every co-ed social event I had because he was convinced I would cheat on him. Convinced me not to go to Europe during the summer on a high school trip because it would be more fun to spend the summer together. Followed me to college. Essentially moved in with me and my roommates without permission so he knew where I was at every moment. Or, my ex-husband telling me we were spending the holidays with his family not my extended family. Ultimately telling me where we were going to live but making me think I had a choice. How did I not see this as abuse? Why didn’t anyone speak up? Better yet, how did I not see my ex-husband’s ultimatums as abuse, especially the very first one?

  • dating relationship: “either we’re boyfriend and girlfriend, or I walk out the door and never come back”
  • engagement: “you can only have this ring if you promise to have kids”
  • end of marriage: “I will only stay with you if we move back to our hometown”

There’s a lot of back story to those ultimatums that I am leaving out but I’m sure you get the picture. Here’s the kicker, my ex-husband is the one that wanted to seek marriage counseling and conveniently “forgot” his ultimatums. For the last two years of my hell…he said I was the abuser. He even put that in the divorce papers as to why he was divorcing me.

The last two years of my marriage were absolute hell. My ex-husband had me convinced it was my fault our marriage had failed and I didn’t know where it went wrong. I sunk so low into depression that I retreated from the outside world. I stopped doing things I loved including my volunteer work where I served on the Board for a local children’s organization and president of my sorority’s local alumnae group all because I was ashamed of my failed marriage. I even stopped hanging out with friends since they were newly married or engaged. There were many days where I didn’t even know how I got to and from work. I was just all of a sudden there, which is pretty scary.

Today, almost two years post-divorce I am still suffering, and still where the mask. I have days where I can barely get out of bed or motivated to get off the coach. Heck, I can barely get motivated to write this blog or post on Insta or Twitter. My struggle is constantly wondering where it all went wrong and how I am suppose to pick up the pieces.