Convoluted mess, that needs more than just therapy
I am a 45 year old woman. I have been married for 10 years. My husband was disgustingly verbally and emotionally abusive for most of our marriage. He was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago. The abuse continued. Two years ago, I was set to leave despite his disease and prognosis, for I was so empty. He wanted to work on our marriage and give it another shot. I told him so long as we BOTH go to counseling and work to make positive changes that we would see. He went to therapy for about two months. I'm been in therapy for over a year.
Things have been better. I have told my family (who are only faintly familiar with what has happened, but not the the extent) that had he been more like this from the beginning, things would be much different.
I am in therapy to work through not only the issues of my own, but from the abuse in the marriage as well as my role as his caregiver. I have gathered many times from my therapist that she thinks I will never heal until I leave.
And that's part of the problem. I have never been good at forgiving. I struggle to forgive the barest of transgressions and things as deep and painful as he has done, I truly don't know that I ever will. I put on an ok face, but inside I am still so unhappy.
My husband's cancer has no cure and the average lifespan is around 5-7 years. He's doing ok with it, considering. I don't actively plan for him to die, but I know that one day, long before he should, he will pass.
And here is part of my dilemma. He's well enough that he could be on his own or maybe even find someone else. But I worry about the emotional backlash on his health.
To this day, I have admitted openly that I do not think I could ever forgive myself if I leave him in his condition (knowing it will just get worse). But I am so very unhappy. I put on the face that everyone expects to get through so that no one will truly know what it's like. But everyday, every harsh word, I wait for a revisit from the past. It's coming harder and harder to pretend. But I don't want to hurt him. He's going through enough.
I understand my therapist's priority is me. Before he was sick, my family encouraged me to leave. But now he's 'changed' and they think staying is the right thing to do. He knows that I struggle with forgiving him and have so many fears and angers over how I have been treated. And he does try. But I can't help but wait for the man that I knew for 8 years to rear his head, because the one he's been for two years was to appease me and keep me from leaving.
I'm open to any advice or suggestions. I have to get this out of my head. I can not talk to my family about it, because we are his primary support system (all of his family and friends live hundreds of miles away) and if they knew what things had really been like, I don't think they would be as supportive. I don't want him to die, nor do I want him to be unhappy, but I'm also trying to survive. I feel like so much of my life is passing me by, but I also feel it's partly my penance for how I feel. To leave a sick and slowly dying man on his own.
It is hard staying with someone when that person loves somebody else. If the other person likes your man you could support them both and help your husband at times, also live you life with whatever makes you happy. It would be unhealthy for you as well if you keep putting a happy facade when infact you are not. It is emotionally and mentally draining..
There is no one else. Perhaps I was not very clear when I posted last night. I would almost be relieved if there was. There is just me and him.
"He's well enough that he could be on his own or maybe even find someone else. But I worry about the emotional backlash on his health."
I feel for you. How difficult.
Being involved with an emotionally abusive person just sucks it all out of you.
I would recommend (this is actually what my therapist said to do in my currently unhappy and mildly emotionally abusive marriage) writing out all of your options and imagining the scenarios in detail. Get all of your options on paper in sort of a brainstorm and weed out the ones that you can't do.
One option I can think of would be to leave the relationship, but continue to support him in whatever way you can that still keeps you safe from his abuse. That way, you would not feel like you were abandoning him, but you are honoring your own needs. Maybe just some space and a few months apart could help you. Do you think you might be suffering from caregiver burnout in addition to being worn down by the years of abuse?
Do you have children together?
I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a disabled guy. It was the hardest breakup ever, but I had to get away. I still feel bad about it 5 years later. Which leads me to saying that sometimes that is just the way you have to feel in life. There is guilt, there is regret, but that is part of the messiness of life.
Another thought is leaving him now, since he is capable of self care and perhaps returning to assist when he declines, if he really, really needs you and hasn't found someone else by then. Could he be moved to be closer to his family?
Or, you could fully commit to staying with him and try to be as happy as possible that way. Check out compassionpower.com . It has helpful advice for abusive relationships that may help you change your mindset enough to be happy while still together. (It helps me sometimes, though I tend to forget and go back to my old patterns.)
One of the things mentioned on the website is Core Values. Identifying and aligning yourself with your core values and acting accordingly can maybe help you make a decision.
I will definitely give the listing of options a go. I'm a planner, so that idea makes a lot of sense to me.
No, thankfully, no children. Neither of us ever wanted them.
I do believe I am burned out, especially from constantly caring for him. Part of the issue is that I decided to leave two years ago and we had a long discussion and he wanted to tr again, with making changes. And, to be fair, he HAS tried. But, as I sit here, I have to be honest hat not only did I not take the chance I had, but I also stayed and went right back into cargiving mode without actually exploring how I felt about staying. I've been slowly burning myself up since.
His cancer is bad, but he's not an invalid. Just last night, I admitted that he takes advantage of everything I'm willing to do to help him, instead of doing more himself. Though he has made efforts and is better in how he treats me, it's the core of it that really hasn't changed. He's quite happy to have me exhaust myself and know that I'm still unhappy, but go on because all of his needs are met.
I try so hard to be fair and do the right thing and I know that not everyone is like that. Just like many of you here, I worry so much how he would handle my leaving (whether it be for a short while or for good) and I am concerned it could affect his health negatively. Yet, by the same token, he's a grown man able to take care of himself and has words and capabilities to ask for help when he actually needs it. I have an overwhelming sense of responsibility and I need to address that in order to help myself.
I'll give everything you have suggested some thought. Taking even a break, I think, could help with my perspective. I just want to be happy and have him be happy and I know that right now, I'm not and with the lack of true love towards him, I know he is missing out on some very important things in life. Now, whether he can live without them or not, I do not know. I just want to be happy and at peace.