My X’s power and control over me was subtle, until it wasn’t.
At first he appointed my friends – women he had dated or were in his community. It felt loving and thoughtful. He didn’t want me to be alone in my new home. But after the birth of my daughter, I branched out. My X didn’t approve of my new friendships. When I joined a mom and toddler group, he criticized the women, saying they were a bunch of complaining yuppies. When I befriended two female neighbors and was asked to join a canoe club, my X did everything in his power to dissuade me from going, including guilt, not letting me use his vehicle, and proclaiming he would not watch my young daughter.
My X put down my family. He explained to me that my mom and sister were crazy and how I was better off without them. He discouraged me from calling them. He said my dad was a rich materialistic asshole. He also let me know that if I ever left him, I would be humiliated and my family would never take me back. That I would be all alone to raise my daughter as a single-parent.
He monitored my phone conversations. When family or friends called, he would motion to me to tilt the phone so he could listen in. He interrupted my conversations to interject his opinion or state opinions he believed were truer than mine. He talked over me and told me what to say to my family.
My X also talked over me in public and in front of friends, often speaking for me, correcting me, or scolding me for not knowing what I was talking about.
When my family sent me money, for birthdays or holidays, my X put it directly into his bank account so I could not access it. He doled it out wherever he saw fit. He told me what to buy at the grocery store, gave me little money, wanted a receipt, and reprimanded me at my lack of ingenuity and thriftiness with my shopping abilities.
He stopped letting me drive the truck, declaring that it was broken or dangerous or he didn’t trust me to drive it right. I ended up being stranded and isolated.
All of these signs now seem to be in neon with a million exclamation marks, shouting at me to get out. In the end of our relationship, some of them did become obvious. The thing that is glaring to me now is that I had relinquished my power. I let him make the decisions. I let him take control. I let him be the boss. Why? Because in the beginning if felt nurturing, the way a parent makes choices for a child. I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life.
But in the end it was severe, suffocating, and abusive.
If someone wants you to abandon your life, your passion, and your potential, run. You always have the capability, skill, and talent to navigate your own life. Let yourself bloom. Step by step. Lesson by lesson. Challenge by challenge. You can always start anew.