A dear reader, Paula has written a long comment in AskNora, that pushed me to reflect on the limitations of my work here. She tells about her lonely marriage. And I can't personally embrace her, I can't support her day-to-day up until the moment when she has her life back...so what can I still do?
This is the situation where she is trapped: too many years in a passive-aggressive marriage, where mainly her role has been to appease and coddle the husband, compounded now by her lack of education, income, and family help.
Her husband, very wisely, restricts his abusive behavior to moments when they are alone, representing the dedicated, attentive, and gentle husband to friends and family. She goes along with his charade, in front of friends and family...not even her children know about the abuse!
She is almost at the point when, if you dare to say something about the domestic emotional violence happening to you, nobody will believe her! It's so frightening...reminds me of the gaslighting examples, where her own reality is smothered by his behavior, and nobody shares her reality.
Perhaps we can come up with a rescue plan, but first, we need to know if finally, she is ready to build up her own reality leaving the shadow that her husband has projected upon her. This "shadow" is the alienated situation where silence, denigration, and put-downs, confine her to be a non-entity. She has become a person who can't control her own life, her own personal meaning (who she really is?), and of course, her place in the family. Her emotional needs are constantly frustrated and she lives a life of utter unhappiness.
I will begin here with a suggestion: I'd tell Paula to get out of the house and find something to do: volunteer somewhere, visit a sick person, get a daily walk. Only by being alone, with herself, Paula can get connected with her feelings and thoughts. Even sitting on a bench at the park, by myself, has been an emotional refuge, in times of utter crisis. It allows you to center and appreciate your own life, and get to the point when you remember to love yourself and feel that your own life is precious.
After that, who knows? I'm opening this conversation to you, my readers, and inviting you to provide one suggestion to help Paula get back to herself. Please, leave comments here, so I can weave a response with your suggestions and support? Thanks!
PD. Did you know that we recently published a second edition of the Kindle book: "The Silent Marriage: How Passive Aggression Steals Your Happiness"?
It is completely updated, with more suggestions about how to respond to your husband's cold shoulder and other painful behaviors than ever, and very helpful to develop self-esteem and respect. You get a lot of support for a very affordable price!