For 15 years I've lived a life of being controlled and often without actually knowing that it was happening, for instance, I was never ever stopped from doing anything I wanted throughout my entire marriage, however often things were made to be so displeasurable that I would stop doing them because it was just so difficult, it's like being encouraged to go out and then getting accused of cheating when you come home or being encouraged to follow your dream and write a book and then as soon as you start you get accused of never being at home and not loving the other person enough or giving them enough attention. It's also small things like being able to watch whatever you want on TV but if the other person doesn't want to watch the same programme they'd sit with their back to the TV in a room where all of the chairs point to the TV or they'd spend an hour with their hands over their face so that you can't miss their disapproval. Another tactic of course is being out with friends and then getting a flurry of text messages encouraging you to come home because you're being missed so much or maybe it's just not speaking to you and switching off every single emotion towards you if you do anything that the other person disagrees with. Every single one of those things is a subtle form of control and I'm speaking out about them now because every single one happened to me and I don't want anyone else to have to go through that. At the time I often didn't even know it was happening, it's only when you have time to walk away and digest it all that you realise the extent of the damage caused.
This weekend as I found myself watching Strictly, X Factor and I'm a Celeb I noticed that I was really enjoying them, it seems I like reality tv and you know the scariest thing about all of this? I have no idea who the heck I actually am, I was talking about this yesterday and nearly burst into tears because it's a bit of a terrifying prospect. I assume I'm a bad person and that I deserved it all in one part of my brain and then in the other part I know that I couldn't have forseen all of this and all I ever tried to do was make my marriage work.
I really hope now that I am a good person, a kind person, a happy person and a good mum, they're the most important things to me, especially being a good mum because I adore my children and want to be the very best example of a person to them and more than anything I never want them to be in a position where any of these controlling behaviours are allowed to happen to them at any point in their lives with anyone they meet.
But what's next for me? Well I haven't a clue really, I know that I like reality tv, Barbra Streisand, musicals, Christmas, vintage things, animals, kids, photography, craft, Cath Kidston and soft furnishings, I know that I like the UK more than overseas and I love going to castles and museums and I adore going on the train but beyond that I'm not especially sure, I guess though I have very many years to find out!
If you're reading this and you're identifying with some or any of the things I've written about then my advice would be get out of that situation as quickly as possible for that isn't what love or a relationship should be about, control and love are not the same things even if the person providing them thinks that they are.