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Eleanor Cowan

Healing old pain through a new disordered relationship

By Eleanor Cowan

My throat, arms, and legs felt swollen. Not for the first time, the thought occurred: “Death would be an instant relief.” I could hardly walk. Heavy with grief, a searing acidic ache in my stomach, I arrived at the weekend retreat held by a support group for those affected by the addictions of a loved one. Assigned to a tiny room the size of a storage cupboard in the small community college, I dropped the worn backpack I’d hastily stuffed with an old nightie, soap, and toothbrush. I chose a seminar among those offered on the agenda lying on the desk and stumbled to it.

Fill in the blank: ‘Detaching from the abuser in my life feels like _____’

By Eleanor Cowan

One early evening at the end of the second year in my support group for Parents of Sexually Abused Children, we were invited to participate in a new activity together. Our lead Social Worker, Aidan, also an artist and storyteller, suggested that we complete two unfinished sentences, each in our own words.

The first was, “Detaching from the abuser(s) in my life feels like _____.

The second was, “Once I let go, I found myself _____.

I’d like to share the responses I heard that evening with Lovefraud readers.

After the sociopath, taking back power and standing up to bad behavior

By Eleanor Cowan

On Tuesday, a young friend from Montreal called with good news. A single mother of four children, proud of her escape from an abusive ex-husband, Kaila is back at school, works part-time to cover the groceries, and, each week it seems, successfully faces yet another challenge to advance her world.

Sociopath exerts control by holding important people and events hostage

By Eleanor Cowan

One winter’s day, busy preparing to drive to a free art lesson for my children and their young friends, my disagreement with my husband took an unwanted turn.

I’d contested Stan’s view of God’s endless compassionate mercy and boundless clemency.

“If that’s so true,” I asked, “What’s hell for?”

My husband was a covert pedophile, although I didn’t know it at the time. Molesting our young daughter and ridiculing our son at every opportunity, while I was at safely at work, Stan never took responsibility for an addiction he knew was morally wrong. Even though he’d molested his own siblings as a teenager, he still felt entitled to become a seminarian as a young man. After that didn’t work out, after we met and married, he felt entitled to molest our children.

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Our cultural conspiracy of silence about predators and pain finally begins to crack

By Eleanor Cowan

“She broke her neck on her way down,” said a police officer at the scene. Thick yellow spray paint outlined an ovary-shaped form on the grass from which my mother’s body had been removed, wrapped in a zippered tarpaulin. Two screaming witnesses, bathers who’d been enjoying a pleasant afternoon by the building’s outdoor pool on that sunny August day, had happened to glance up to witness my mother’s horrid plummet from her seventh-floor balcony.

“She didn’t feel the final impact,” the investigator added. I noticed a tinged bloodstain on the grass.

“The skull sustained a crack,” said the kindly officer, following my gaze.

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Once I was groomed to be compliant; now I’m reclaiming my own life

By Eleanor Cowan

I picked up my sweet, chubby grandson and cuddled him in my arms. He’d reached up to me and, thrilled to respond, I held him close. But ah, a colorful object on the floor beckoned, and instantly, he wanted down. Wriggling only once and issuing a single sound, he found himself back on the wool carpet crawling towards a plastic lamb-shaped cookie cutter. It claimed his full attention. With no hesitation, he’d signaled his wish and I honored it. Simple as that.

Not so in my childhood.

Responses to me were, “What do you want now?,” “Go away,” “Get lost,” or, “What a pain in the behind.”

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My husband’s entire family knew what he was, but nobody talked about it

By Eleanor Cowan

January 1973 – Quebec

At the college where I worked as a secretary, I smiled up at the chubby cherubs fixed along the ancient oak hallway, their alabaster gazes uplifted in hope. I knocked on the chaplain’s door. We’d arranged to meet during my lunch hour. Anxious to hear about the results of his appointment with my fiancé’s mother, I took the same wooden chair Edna sat in only hours before.

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Healing after the sociopath — a long bridge over painful memories

By Eleanor Cowan

I awaken this first day of 2018 to a winter world of snow. Outside my window, sunshine brightens a yellow bus full of passengers lumbering over a mile-long overpass. Even though layers of heavy slush still cover its roof, it’s plowing along. The bridge, dripping with glistening icicles, allows the access to town that otherwise would require a long overland trip.

Thanks to hard-working night time crews, the road is clear.

It’s been twenty-eight years since I awakened from a freezing burrow of long-term disassociation and managed, with wonderful help, to escape the pedophile I married — a confused, disturbed exploiter who hid behind the respected academic letters stuck to the end of his name.

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My sociopathic husband and isolation in my marriage

During my fourteen years of marriage, even though I could see and hear, I was blind and deaf to the messages coming in all the time, information that slowly, over time, eroded my hope that marriage and children would solve the unresolved grief in my life.

One morning in July 1976, I was nursing Teddy while watching the Montreal Olympics on the TV our landlord had kindly loaned to us. In an instant, the pillows that supported my back against the attic wall felt like stone as I listened to a flash news report. Our newborn was asleep when I whispered to Stan, “A child has been sexually abused by her own grandfather in Guelph. What a horrible, unspeakable thing.”

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My sociopathic husband denied – with outrage and tears – what turned out to be the terrible truth

In our tiny upper flat, I took all the vitamins and folic acid tablets never available to my pregnant foremothers. I ate well, our table a rainbow of green, orange and yellow every day. I drank a concoction called Tiger’s Milk, thrilled to nourish the growth of my child within, a baby I loved with all my heart.

One sunny day, while Stan, my then-husband, subbed for the Toronto School Board, I sat on the carpeted floor near our tiny attic window, a pillow to my back, and gazed at an astonishing Time Life photo of a baby inside a mother’s womb. I had no idea how it had been taken, but it inspired me to draw a woven basket so full of colorful spring flowers they toppled over the sides, a welcome home card for my soon-to-be-born baby. I was lost in art when the phone jangled.

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