Editor’s note: The following story was submitted by the Lovefraud reader who comments as “Free.”
I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 13 years. Two years after we started living together, I slowly developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It first started off with a safety issue, where I was going around the house checking to see if everything was locked and turned off, until it escalated that I couldn’t have knives anywhere near me because I was too afraid that I might lash out and hurt someone. I lived in absolute terror because of this. Some instinct told me to hide all of this as much as I could from my husband. But he did find out and he didn’t offer any help, or seek help or to take me to the doctor. There were no hugs or reassurance. Nothing. I very nearly had a nervous breakdown about a year after I started having my symptoms. He used it against me by deliberately “forgetting” to turn things off or lock the door when he went out.
He once told me that I was so lucky because now that I had him, I could fall apart. Weird thing to tell a person, that they are lucky that they can fall apart. He told me this when I had found a counselor who wanted to analyse my relationship with him. My husband convinced me that he was the perfect husband and that I didn’t need this counselor to pick apart our relationship. I look back now and wish I had continued to see that lady. She was onto something and I stupidly believed in him.
Alone with the illness
I was on my own with this and it was very lonely. I didn’t trust myself to do the simplest tasks such as turning off a tap, turning off the stove, the iron, locking the door without having to check them a million times. It got to the point I was afraid of being me. I was afraid to drive, talk to people, everything and I just wanted to die. It was sheer hell. So many people get put on meds because of OCD, but I refused. I had OCD for about 11 years and everything I read indicated that you can never truly get rid of it.
During my marriage, I didn’t have any emotional support from anyone. I was isolated from my friends and my family lived a long way away. The friends I did make, he would overtake and they would become his friends. I really only saw my mother-in-law and sister-in-law during that time and on the odd occasion, I would see my best friend until he moved us to another country where I had no one, but slowly I started to make friendships at work that he couldn’t sabotage and they have helped me through this devastation.
Husband wants a new family
He told me our marriage was over the night our house sale settled and the funds had been deposited into our account, which was a Friday night and I had just gotten home from work. Because he had lost his job in May of that year, I put our house on the market (in our home country). After convincing me that I was an alcoholic amongst other things during our time together, he handed me a glass of wine that night and told me that he needed to stand on his own two feet but he was too afraid to leave and needed to stay until he was ready. I truly believed that he was going through a midlife crisis, because he was laughing and crying hysterically. I was pretty shocked at his apparent devastation. His actions during the following week didn’t seem to match his theatrics and I found out he was seeing other women during that week including receiving kiss emails from the woman he is with now living with in Canada. I told him he had to leave during the following week and he found a place to stay in (just up the road). That was in early December 2006.
He wouldn’t leave me alone to grieve for our relationship. He continued to manipulate me and we spent Christmas Day together. We talked, talked and talked about our marriage, so I thought maybe we could fix it. In February 2007, I learnt from his mother that he had told her that he missed being in a family unit and that it was okay for him to replace his family with a new one. She seemed a bit confused by this and I believe that he deliberately told her this as he knew we were very close. That conversation made me start to question everything and to start piecing together our whole history. He told me after the conversation I had with my mother-in-law, that he was going overseas to visit friends and I confronted him straight away and told him to stop lying to me. You are replacing us with that woman. He defiantly said that he wouldn’t do that, that he loved the family he had. He said that it was a friendship only on his side and that the other woman had been presumptuous to think that there could be a relationship by sending him that kiss email and he had told her it was friendship only.
Seeing the lies
I eventually Googled the woman’s name who had sent him the kiss email when he was overseas with her, not believing that it was friendship only. That was late April last year. I had to wrack my brain to remember her name and later on, when he returned, I was able to view her Myspace profile because she had supposedly made it public because she is a psychic and I was calling to her in a dream. Absolutely unreal, but this is what she told me in an email to me when I started to warn her. She doesn’t realise that that day, I had told him I tried looking her up but her profile was blocked. Her profile told me everything that he was lying about and I confronted him and he was violent and I was very afraid of him.
I had started listening to my gut instinct after we separated and even though he was lying to me, I couldn’t truly believe him no matter how convincing he was and no matter how hard I tried to. I am so glad that I listened to me. Last year I was so devastated by all of this. But typing this now, I am so glad I am no longer spending my life with someone who could treat me like I was some disposable trash. A man of integrity does not set out to replace his family before he leaves the one he has.
My OCD symptoms didn’t fully disappear until I was strong enough to cope with the whole truth about his abuse, which was June 2007. No matter how bad it is for me to know the truth of all of his deception and abuse, I now have my life back. I still have flashbacks of his abuse, but I know that I won’t have them forever; it is just part of the healing process and that time will heal all my wounds.
Oprah says that in order to stop overeating, you need to find out what the root cause of it is. Same with OCD. The OCD was the symptom. The ambient abuse was the cause.
I am now OCD free. Absolutely FREE. I stopped feeling the need to check everything when I realised I was safe. Safe from him. Safe from someone who was playing with my mind, distorting my reality with ambient abuse. I have been OCD free for almost a year and it is wonderful! I look back to the girl I was in that marriage and I can’t believe that I am that same woman. She looks better, walks straighter, laughs again and believes in herself and she doesn’t have to check a damn thing! Because she knows that she can trust herself. It amazes me that throughout all of those years where I despaired about this disorder, that the answer to beating it was to just get out of that relationship. That relationship was poison to my mind, body and soul.