My Savior Complex Kept Me In An Abusive Marriage For Way Too Long

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unhappy woman

Females share a familiar story with millions of women around the globe.  Each of us is unique, yet of a similar mind when it comes to our families. We want happiness, health, and security, but if you have chosen a partner who is an abuser, drinker, or addict, as I did, you will eventually realize you are attached to a partner capable of being a human wrecking ball, willing to butcher your family with betrayal.

Growing up in a severely strict religious environment with a mother who frequently reminded me that my eternal happiness was based on my earthly family, I found myself believing that my life as a young woman was not complete without a lifelong marriage.

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Any potential mate with major faults or bad behavior could be forgiven if he obeyed church rules. One of my personal thoughts was that I could change bad behavior because of what a good person I was.

Looking back, one of the pitfalls in my young adulthood was the lack of education regarding the reality of alcoholism, addiction, and abuse.

I considered myself to be untouchable. So, I married addictions and abuse, without recognizing what I had done. Which was still alright because my good character and almighty tenacity could change it. After all, I was repeatedly taught to save anyone I could.

My first mistake started when I thought that life would be fair. Secondly, I had standards about trust, and I transferred my trustworthiness to my abuser. Of course, my trustworthiness had nothing to do with another’s actions. When I eventually understood, I was deeply embedded into our family, home, and business that my husband and I had built together. We had a child; I didn't want to give up.

When I complained about my husband's deviant behavior, my mother told me that if I would be nicer to him, he would be nicer to me. As the years endured, I continually overlooked my own self-worth. I was too committed to his personal happiness to recognize that he counted on me to assume his responsibilities; he counted on me to feel that none of my effort for him was too great a sacrifice.

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Eventually, I realized that despite my years of efforts, nothing that I suffered was a solution. 

As the abuse took its toll, I realized that I was not abused because I wasn't a nice person. I was abused because of the sick insecurities of the abuser, as he continued with his assaults, to maintain his perverse power over me. It was my own fault to disbelieve in the existence of his sickness, as I merely promoted more dysfunctional behavior with my good intentions.

Because of my naivety, I thought of abuse as being purely physical. What I came to understand about the mercilessness of the abuser was he stowed a toolbox full of physical pain, social control, sexual mistreatment, verbal manipulation, and mental torture. 

In addition, I was constantly confused because he was supposed to be the man who loved me, or so he said. Wasn't I supposedly the most important woman in the world to him?

I discovered that knowledge is power and freedom. Knowledge and experience are something no one can ever take away. When I came to this realization, I knew I wanted to be educated about the hardships I had been facing alone. I discovered that action cures fear. That I had choices even if I didn't like the best option.

If I couldn't honor my commitments, I would honorably terminate them. I was no longer willing to slowly suffer a prolonged loss of life or be his emotional hostage. My savior complexes were damaging to both of us; I was enabling him. I was not going to continue being responsible for his faults, only mine.

Perhaps he blamed me for his nasty tactics. Possibly he saw me as the Prosecutor who found all his faults, defining him as inadequate. Whatever thoughts he processed, he had hidden agendas and respected no boundaries. Over and over our roles repeated, and there were never any solutions, no matter how logical I was.

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He was a master manipulator, he could dodge, deflect, and blame me. There was never any recognition of the damage he wielded.

He was grand at pretending it had nothing to do with him. For years he created digressions and doubts as I lived in delusional disconnect. I was left holding our lives, family, business, and rubbery reality together. He constantly leveraged his position of power as CEO and Husband. To anyone on the outside, he was charming, cooperative, and successful.

I coped the only way I knew how; determined. I wanted someone to talk to, but other than library books, professional counselors, and Al-Anon discussions, I did not have a single friend or family member that was educated in abuse and the side effect of deep, dark, dirty denial of addiction. No one I knew understood the dynamics of what I was facing.

I was no longer going to stay the course. I decided to create a new one.

It is my sincere wish that in sharing my story others will awaken to their own dysfunctional participation, where they have acclimated to abuse and lies without recognizing the truths.

Rylee Ryder is the author of “I Kissed the Bully — Would You?” For more information, check out her website.