Why I Stayed So Long by Debra Sutton


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Fear and Shame motivates the lie for the closeted gay husband. He fears people will find out so he becomes over protective of his privacy. He is ashamed of what he is so he hides it by marrying a woman. Over time he grows very resentful and becomes abusive. In my case he was abusive early in the relationship. He marries a certain type of woman. I was naive and codependent. I always put his needs ahead of my own. The whole relationship was about him. I was never even considered. I had to ask myself why I stayed so long. Although I did not know he is gay the abuse alone was reason enough to leave.

Abusers know how to get you to bond with them. To keep you there. The traumatic bonds formed through abuse will keep you in your place. These abusers, narcissist, and psychopaths Do Not form natural bonds with anyone. Trauma Bonding occurs as the result of ongoing cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates powerful emotional bonds that are resistant to change. These bonds are even harder to break if you come from an abusive background. I grew up in abuse. My father was very abusive. He was in the Air Force before I was born and was discharged with Anti Social Personality. Growing up in abuse made me a target. When most people would walk away, I stayed. Who better to put up with a narcissist than a child of a narcissist. We learn to tolerate the abuse. I sought comfort from my abusive husband I wanted him to ease the pain to make it go away. During the reward phase I was so happy to be granted a moment of peace and maybe a loving embrace oh he does love me after all. Sigh, Relief.

Leon Festinger’s 1957 Cognitive Dissonance theory focuses on how humans thrive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals become psychologically uncomfortable, and are motivated to attempt to reduce the dissonance. While I was in this abuse I would rationalize all his bad behavior. I felt very sorry for him and the abusive background he came from, even though my own childhood was just as bad, if not worse. I would say no wonder he behaves this way look at what he grew up in. I made excuses for the lack of intimacy telling myself that sex was not everything and everyone loses that after so many years together. So what our friendship bond was worth so much more than sex. I was loyal to my abuser, defending his bad behavior to family and friends.

Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other. One commonly used hypothesis to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome is based on Freudian Theory. It suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat. I can not tell you why I loved him, even he could not believe it was love that I felt for him. There was nothing about him to miss, but still I missed him. In my first marriage I experienced physical abuse, mental abuse and constant cheating. When I unknowingly married the gay husband, my second marriage I was relieved that he did not seem to have any interest in women. With all the abuse I told myself he was a true and faithful husband. This was the only thing I could say I liked about him. In the end I found this was a lie. Not only was he cheating he was cheating with men. After my marriage ended I suffered through a lot of anxiety, depression, and fear. I was afraid of everything. I was afraid to watch my grand baby afraid I would do something wrong. I was afraid to walk to the store. I did not want to be around people. I stayed isolated. I did not want to talk to anyone on the phone it gave me anxiety. This was so unlike me. I was a phone person in the past living away from my family we talked on the phone all the time. My fear of watching my grand-daughter where unfounded as I had raised five children. I am the oldest of eleven children and took on a mother role to my siblings.

Today I have no feelings or any type of bond to my gay ex husband. There has been no contact for two and a half years. The chains have been broken. Time has improved my mental state. I came out of this no longer codependent. In fact I am just the opposite. I had to look at myself to find out why I was a target for a closeted gay man. Self discovery is a powerful tool in the healing process. When I was in the marriage all I could see were the dark clouds. I can now see the sunshine peeping through. Even the rainy days are good days with no more chains. 

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