Coming Up For Air

I loved the attention.
After being ignored for so many years I loved that someone thought that I was worth listening to, that what I had to say mattered.
I loved that I felt attractive again, that I felt desired.
I loved that I felt loved.
He never hit me. He rarely said an unkind word.
But he left me suffocating nonetheless, under the weight of his silence.
He ignored me. 
When I was in pain, when I needed a hug, when I begged for reassurance and kindness,
when I fell to the floor sobbing...
he ignored me.
It has taken the breath from me, I can no longer speak, breathe, I can barely muster up the energy to lift my head
so damaged is my resolve.
But wait
I can feel it, a freshness, a breeze. I will find my strength.
I will tell myself that I deserve better, that there doesn't have to be bruises and  broken bones for there to be pain. 
It is real, and it is stoppable. I can walk away.
I will walk away.
I am coming up for air.
I will breathe again. 
Quintesse Quintesse
51-55, F
63 Responses Aug 19, 2011

So where exactly are you now on the road to recovery?

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This is so true. Walking away takes time and there's definitely a better place, so keep taking deep breaths when you come up for air.

Thanks Joyce,
The fact that so many people can relate to this is scary.

This is beautiful. I can somewhat relate myself. Good job!

When I wrote this I was traumatized. I had never experienced "ignoring" to this degree and with this level of callousness and apparent cruelty. Since I wrote it and I have seen the number of people who can relate--so many people sent me private messages as well!--I have come to the conclusion that it is not as rare an occurrence I as I once thought. I really felt that my suffering was unique. Obviously it was not, as evidenced here.
I am truly sorry that so many people can relate. It is a sad commentary on the state of adult human relationships.
Still, it has been a learning experience for me. Not only do I better understand how to deal with it when it happens to me, I understand the "ignorer" better as well. I have some insight now into the type of person who does this and why. It is not always out of maliciousness. Some people are just very "Ill equipped" to deal with emotions.
Still, I am sorry for all of the pain.

i had that sort of experience too my mate shut me out and i was so angry and felt so disrespected that i behaved badly myself now what i would do is walk away cause why waste time with someone who doesnt want to talk to you

Elandra, Lohla, and 2011 and CrazyWaterSpring
I think for some people who are really emotionally immature ignoring is the best that they can do. And even knowing that they are doing such severe damage to someone else by perpetuating it, they are so self centered and lacking in empathy that they cannot overcome their own needs to satisfy those of another. It may not be malicious but it is an extremely passive/aggressive form of abuse.
I am still trying to understand it all, still trying to heal.
Thanks for reaching out to me and for the understanding and support. It means a lot to me.

It leaves you with very little left in the way of self esteem. And the more you love the person the worse it is.

it is gut-wrenching to be alone in the company of someone that you love.

Princess Diana once confessed to a friend that she threw herself down the stairs for attention.
I wish I could say I didn't understand. I'm sure you get it, too.

Sorry to read this. :(

Maybe you could have your friend come here and read stories from people who have been where she is. Sometimes it is powerful to read about other people's experiences and realize that you are not alone and that there is another way.

Abuse, especially this kind of abuse is hard to to break away from. And people who are victims are often convinced that it is all their fault, that somehow they deserve to be treated the way they are being treated, which then ties into self esteem issues. It is an ugly mess--and it is all VERY hard to walk away from for so many different reasons.
I'm still in pain. Some things you never get over. This is one of those things for me.
I wish you and your friend freedom from this situation. (You are a good friend to try to help her.)

gratitude to take your time to splain me how show her a the reason
i will try and never stop
thank you

You're a good friend. I hope that you can get through to her.

im sorry i dont speak well english so i will try to splain something
if someone have been abuse and he doesn't know it becouse there many people who dont even know what is emotional abuse,where i live i see alldays that womens doesn't have space,they humulhate they bet...i don't even have words to splain
what can i do to show this womens the right thing to do becouse there are addicted to this life

See above

You're right OpenMinded,
but I think that the person who endures this type of abuse does so because they so love the person who is perpetrating it, and they desperately want to make things right-- and honestly, when it is ongoing you are incredulous half the time that it is happening, you wait in vain for it to stop. You think that if you just wait them out that they will snap out of it, and remember that you are a real person, with a breaking heart.

But often they lack the necessary emotional tools to maintain a relationship, so that is why we say we "give up" because if you love the person, even if they are abusing you, you relinquish that love grudgingly.
I actually think that emotional abuse on this level occurs when you have a severely disproportionate couple--one that is extremely nurturing and giving and unselfish and one that is the opposite.
That was certainly the case with me.

Loved the word "incredulous". This is exactly how I felt when the abuse started. I almost thought it was a joke until the penny dropped.

Now I have started using the word sadistic. Knowingly hurting someone is sadistic.

Agreed. I'm in therapy because of my own story and we are also exploring my share of responsibility. It hurts to think that I allow someone to hurt me knowingly but it's also important to aknowledge our role so that it doesn' happen again. I know we all blame ourselves a bit already and feel guilty but it's a necessary step not to see us *only* as victims. Of course this doesn't change the fact that those who hurt someone knowingly are sadistic and dangerous. I think you are a very skilled writer, by the way, very talented. :)

Thank you. I do have to take responsibility for letting it go on. I should have walked away. Instead he walked away from me, the final blow...I wasn't strong enough. He did a number on my self esteem. I am different as a result. Thanks for understanding. You are helping me.

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I don't like the words "I have given up" because it implies that it is something worth fighting for, and you are worth so much more than someone who refuses to see that.

You have to give up, but it took me a long time too, to realize that it was never going to end. A person who is capable of ignoring in that way is a person lacking in empathy and compassion. I learned this the hard way; I suffered through years of disbelief, of thinking that if I was just a little better, a little more loving, if I made it my fault and apologized profusely even though I did nothing wrong, but was instead the victim...I thought if I could somehow redeem myself the punishment would end, but it never did. It was his go-to tactic/weapon. It was a nightmare I won't soon forget, --emotional abuse is the most brutal form of abuse there is in my opinion. Walk away. The person capable of this will not change. I am speaking from experience.

Lesely. I am really sorry for your situation. What is implied in the silence is "you are worthless" because if the person is not even willing to acknowledge you then you have no way to respond other than to feel invisible.
In your case however it seems like there is a lot going on that is not good. I hope that you can contact some kind of outreach agency in your community, even a battered women's shelter (even they recognize emotional abuse--not sure if you are aware of that) and maybe they can steer you in the right direction so that you can find a way to leave.
I hope you and your daughter can find a way. My prayers are with you this day.

I've been in the same sort of relationship for 25 was very suttle in the beginning.But I could see the cracks in the wall,it wasn't right.The thing is it was my house,I asked him to leave a few times.He wouldn't,the police wouldn't even help.Now I'm going through another one,two and te of his games all at once.The main game today is to make sure I understand I'm a bad parent.(but I never said that he said)He well and truly implied it.I were suicidal before xmas,now I feel so dirty, useless,stupid.I have no where to go,no money to get out,no one to help.And I have my daughter.

Thank you for your compassion. No one should have to go through this, but there are those whose egos are so huge, that I believe they actually derive some kind of sick pleasure from treating others like this. It gives them the power and they somehow feed off of the other person's desperation and weakness.
At least that is how it was explained to me. It helped me to understand the mindset of the perpetrator. There is something seriously lacking there mentally/ emotionally. It is an emotional game.
Show them your strength and they crumble.
Walk away.

It´s exactly how I feel. Thank you for sharing your story and I`m so sorry you had to go through that.

This story makes me so sad, and just as I can feel happy when I revisit joyful stories, when I come back here my breath sort of catches in my throat and I can feel the pain that was inflicted so heartlessly on me, and the tears still come as if it is still happening now.
If he had had a whip I would have preferred it I think.
For all who suffer from this humiliating and brutal form of abuse my heart goes out to you. I've been there. There is hope though, if you can find the strength to pull yourself up and out. Deep breaths and baby steps perhaps. I wish you all well...

You have no idea how those words went through me as I read this! I cried and thought of my life exactly as this and the changes and the long road I have ahead of me!! Thank you for posting this! I am on the road to breathing again!!!

Take deep breaths. It is freeing. Then, if you can, walk away. This is, in some ways, the worst kind of abuse there is in my opinion.

I love your story I feel me in it!

I'm sorry that you see yourself in this, but then again it helps to know your are not alone with your pain I hope. I've been there. It is brutal.

Beautiful and courageous story

Thank you so much.

Here, here. That is good advice LuninousOne. It is hard to believe in yourself when you are treated as I was, but it can be overcome. I am living proof of that. Thank you sincerely for your kind words of encouragement.

Oh my, Sandi, that is the saddest thing I can think of, but I know that it is fairly common. I like to think that as women we would kind of bond, especially when it came to children and grandchildren. I never alienated my mother in law although at times we had our differences. I respected that she was my husband's mom and that he loved her and I grew to love her too. That is how it should be. <br />
But I have a sister who suffers as you do, her grandson does not know her at 3 and it breaks her heart. Again, as sisters...we should all be on the same page... But the husbands's bear part of the blame. I get wanting to keep things calm at home, but alienating your own mother? <br />
Being ignored is always unbearable, but in your case, the sense of hopelessness must be more painful than I can imagine. I am truly sorry. It is hell, definitely. And being forced to live with that, being forced as I was to "accept that which I cannot change" must be particularly hard in your case because you suffer not only for yourself but for the children who are minus a grandparent. God, I am tearful. I am sorry. This is all very hard. You have my prayers.

This past year of not being allowed to see or even talk to my three grand kids has been the biggest challenge of my lifetime. I became a "single" mom in 1983 and we hit rock bottom financially but my youngest son and I had a very strong and loving relationship until he met my daughter in law. She was rude the day we met and let me know to keep my distance...and after 13 years nothing changed except to get worse. I've tried everything I know to try and I keep praying for them as the kids always get hurt the most.but zero commuication has brought about very sad results. A couple of my friends are also having these types of issues. Their son's act scared to death of their wives too and when a son marries a woman that doesn't "like" her husband's mom, brother, or family .... but dotes on her family...and the son allows is simply put ~ Hell.

Crazy,<br />
Sorry for your pain. I know it well. It is a horrible place to be. I am a talker too, a lot like you. Problems get understood and solved with talking. Nothing good has ever come from ignoring and silence. It creates a chasm that often cannot be crossed. Thanks for your comment.

EarthArtist.<br />
It nearly killed me.<br />
Coming up for air is the only way--claw your way up and then run like hell.

Oh my word, I could have written this. My husband is exactly the same...except I kept crying and begging and lost all my dignity. And for a man who just wasn't capable of feelings.

Quintesse your story is mine. I feel broken, empty and lost. Instead of trying to make me better, I am obsessed about trying to find out what is wrong with him. The ignoring hurts--it hurts even more that he is cheating on me. Giving the attention I crave to another. I am his wife and he can't answer my call but spends hours on the phone with the other woman. Turned his phone off and spent 3 days with her (He is a truckdriver). I am in a hole I don't know how to begin climbing out of....can't find the lifelines I need to get a good grip. I have never been a confrontational person, I keep my feelings close for fear of ridicule--but the hurts gnaws away at my sanity. I want to yell and scream...I want to cry tears of anger. I want to tell him to go to hell. But then reality sets in and I ask, where would I go? No job (he asked me to quit), no family (all passed on), few friends....I am trapped. I have to go search for the light of hope within myself.

That pretty much sounds like emotional abuse to me. Perhaps a local support group? I think that's where I would start so that I could begin to make the break from someone like that. It is terrifying and I hate to think of you alone struggling with all of it. But leaving seems inevitable if he is treating you like that. I am sorry for your pain.

Discrete one. Thank you for reading this. It is painful, even for me after all this time. This is what I have learned however; sometimes people ignore because of their own issues, not necessarily to be malicious. Some people cannot find-- or if they can find them--cannot speak the words that need to be said, so their ignoring is a form of self preservation. <br />
Of course, that doesn't make it right and it is a still a cruel way to handle a relationship issue, but withdrawing is the way some people cope. It is probably just as destructive to a relationship as physical abuse though, something the ignore-er may or may not understand. <br />
Thanks for reading and commenting.

This is beautiful, and feels intensely personal to read. No one should have to go through this. Thank you for sharing.

Ignoring is as bad as it gets, JustMe. It says (and not in any particular order):<br />
You are nothing.<br />
You matter not at all<br />
I disrespect you <br />
I care not for your suffering<br />
I loathe you<br />
I feel superior, and therefor must subjugate you so that you are clear that you are nothing--(see above) <br />
And not the least of which--I have a mental problem in that I have decided that I will hurt you--that passive aggressive intimidation is the weapon I will choose because I am way too cowardly to talk to you and confront the issues.

So horrible, so true. It hurts to walk away when you care so deeply, but have taken so much emotional abuse and manipulation that you must do so for self preservation. At least there was silence, not an intelligent, cruel deceiver who could play the words to make it your fault. Enjoy your freedom.

Yes, Quintesse, ignoring is unbearable. I recently told a friend that his ignoring me for nearly 3 decades was akin to "flipping me the bird." You share your needs, tell them you cry yourself to sleep, and they have no reply, which to me just came to mean **** you and your needs. Then you come to realize what you've spent your life on and you can never get those years back :((
Thank you for sharing your insights.

Thank you peaceful one. This story is hard for me to read. The thing I did not say is how humiliating being ignored is. It really does a number in one's self-esteem. It is hard to get up. <br />
But get up I did. I am and will forever be very sensitive to being ignored however. I haven't yet mastered that--how to combat chronic passive aggressive attacks--but I am working on it.<br />
Thanks again for reading and for commenting.

Powerful. Love it.

It is a blessing. You come back refreshed, and smarter. <br />
Thank you.

Recovery is a blessing!

I am gasping a little over here Paco<br />
The fresh air feels good though<br />
Thank you

Great Story!

Amber, I'd say you have a situation on your hands.<br />
I'm sorry. I think we all agree that we would rather be screamed at than ignored, the rationale being that at least the person is acknowledging your presence, as opposed to actively (or passive-aggressively) pretending that you do not exist.<br />
It is all extremely hurtful. <br />
My ex ignored me for so long and with such in infuriating consistency that when I met someone else I was catapulted into ecstasy by the slightest compliment or recognition. I had so gotten used to being a piece of furniture in the room. All I can say is what everyone has pretty much said here--we ALL deserve better, but it is hard to achieve when you have been knocked down self-esteem wise by this kind of treatment.<br />
I am sorry. Fight for yourself. I did, and I will never look back.

i understand this. some people in my family and my husband have gon thru swings of this. its complicated but they go from one hurtful act to another. I was talking to my brother about how when I was a teenager I wanted to play drums and had a natural talent for it. I would express this to my mother and she would tell me I cant have drums and ignore everthing I said. I got one and kept it at another house and would practice at church. I got invited into three bands at one time and played at a theater by our house I bragged to my mom needing her to see support and just agnolege something that was me. She shrugged her shoulders and said huh. Now with my husband he at times wont look at me wont notice when I need him emotionally weather its wile im giving birth or when a loved one has died or just simply need to know he cares. he can tell friends he feels bad for there circumstances and be overly supportive to other women and tell me how much he cares about them. He didnt even acnolege my birthday. he made sure his friends were shiped packages for theres. and on on my birthday he ordered himself a talking phone. he wont stop braging about it to everyone and everyone is so happy for him. sorry this is a novel. I understand tho.

Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your experience.<br />
I am finally taking huge gulps of air and it feels amazing. <br />
There are birds here and blue sky and none of it looks blurry from all the tears anymore.<br />
It is all good.<br />
It feels good to get out from under there. It felt heavy and suffocating.<br />
This is better. This is much better.<br />
Thank you all so much. This story and all the comments have helped me.

I am you...He never wanted me until he thought someone else did. Please know in your heart that you will find someone worthy of who you are and that will love YOU! It took me 14 years of pure hell, but I have the man who is good enough for me, treats me and my babies like we deserve, he is every thing I ever dreamed of and more.

Rickie, none of this is easy. Once you realize how unhappy you are, deciding what to do about it is agonizing. I mean, I can come here and write about my pain because I know that people will sympathize with me and encourage me and tell me I am great. That helps--a LOT.<br />
But I still have to live with myself in my real life, and I still have to face my day to day challenges--alone. I walked once and I have never looked back. I won't have to walk as far this time--I am already alone as far as I am concerned. Being ignored, having been told again and again that my feelings do not matter has toughened me a bit. I'm just waiting for my big break is all. But it takes time, the figuring out what to do, how to proceed. Surviving emotionally is key.

I feel with you and suffer the same right now! I try to stop loving my husband with whom I live together since 27 years. Not easy, but it is necessary if I want to survive emotionally.

Well, I would like to think that some people are just so completely locked in their own heads, in their own world so as to be truly oblivious to others around them. Sometimes it is not as malicious as what you are describing. Still, being self-absorbed to such a degree, that you shut out your loved ones, well, it's a convenient excuse to just wallow in your own pain and disregard others.<br />
It's not good, not a good way to attempt to have a relationship.<br />
Some of my problem is that I always think I can change things.<br />
I cannot. That hurts me more than anything.<br />
Thank you. (I will try and grab some of your strength) I'm tired of feeling like I don't matter. It sucks.

I can feel it my friend. Keep up the good work.<br />
Thank you.

grace and strength, this is my prayer for you.<br />
<br />
love <br />

Thank you so much. I will need those prayers and that strength. I am feeling rather weak these days.<br />
You are a good friend to me and I thank you today, right now, when I needed to hear these words from someone.

Thank you guys for commenting and for offering your support. I hate this story because I hate that I let another person make me feel this bad about myself, that I let them affect my happiness. It's just that I have always believed that if you support someone long enough and show them how much you love them, that they will turn right around and do the same for you when you need it. I always believe that reciprocity in a relationship is a given.<br />
It's not.<br />
And when it's not it really, really hurts.

Betrayal of trust is awful on so many levels, and produces such difficult and conflicting desires, especially when the betrayal has been by someone you care about so deeply. I hope you are in a better place emotionally and intellectually now.

Thank u for sharing ur story. Im sorry u had to go through that. Breath on, hold ur head up bc ur worth it. Best wishes

You could have written this for me Q. This so reflects how I feel. Lack of acknowledgement is very hard to live with and it wears you down. I do understand.

And I appreciate it. I am struggling. I always embrace the good wishes people offer, and I virtually embrace them.<br />
Thank you b. The peace part is hard for me. I am tortured.<br />
As usual, thank you so much

All I have to offer you as usual are<br />
<br />
Love and peace<br />

I'm not getting up so fast after all. Maybe I will just sit here for a while. It's one thing to talk about taking a stand and making tough choices, it's quite another to find the strength to do it when you have been beaten down for so long. I thank each of you for your friendship and encouragement. I feel like ****.<br />
That's what being ignored does to you, it makes you feel insignificant.

sometimes, when you're a bit detached because there's too much coming at you ( or NOT coming at you ) you can see what someone else is REALLY saying. When my father was frustrated with me for not backing down, he would look dead in my tear-filled eyes and tell me that I didn't need to be so " powerful. " What a compliment, disguised as a terrible, terrible thing to say to a teenage girl ! We see you, Quintesse. We see you, and we find you undeniable. Significant ? Oh, hell yes.

understanding and feeling one to another. hearts and minds meet when they come from some of the same places.<br />
<br />
thank you

Yeah, maybe you're right, maybe people can change; I have, now that you mention it. But in order for change to happen it first must be acknowledged that a problem exists. That's the tricky part.<br />
Thank you so much.<br />
I have been stagnant for far too long

I thank you all for commenting, for reaching out to me, because I can joke and write about politics but this stuff is hard for me to share, mainly because it is embarrassing. I ask myself how someone so emotionally strong and honest about her feelings could find herself in a relationship where she is ignored. <br />
I am good at expressing myself, but if there is no one to listen on the other end, ( that deaf ear phrase comes to mind), then I am left sitting, alone, incredulous that what I am feeling at any given point in time matters not at all to the person I most need it to matter to.<br />
Some people are oblivious to anything outside the realm of their own feelings. For someone like myself, who is cursed with an almost paralyzing sense of empathy, it is incomprehensible to me that I could be ignored, even while begging to be heard, felt, understood. <br />
I can't take it anymore.<br />
I can see the surface, but I can't quite pull myself up.<br />
The scariest part for me is that I don't think people can change. I am going to have to accept that, and I hate having to accept that.

The feeling of shame is not yours to bear, my sister. It is his. You have been abused. The silent treatment is as insidious as any other form of abuse. Been there, done that.

One of the astonishing things about having life bite you on the tuchis is that your eyes can be finally opened, if you just let it happen.

Your relationship yardstick is out of whack., but you are *not* to change your relationship expectations. It isn't any kind of normal to be ignored by a man who is supposed to love and respect you.

Forgive me--

*you are not POWERLESS to change your relationship expectations"

i stand with you. <br />
<br />
there are so many thoughts heavy in my chest... there is a moment of distinct and utter beauty in the moment of seeing oneself as separate from the dynamic partnership of abuser and abused. It is a thing of wonder to be present in that place.

There are thoughts heavy in my chest too. That is a good way to describe it. This is sad stuff. I feel less alone. Thank you

Q, being ignored, facing that apathy from someone you love and care about, is horrible pain. It is physical pain, mostly in the chest area. Happy that you are getting over it.

"horrible" is right.

*hugs* I hope you take great lungfuls free air, I wish you luck and peace and a love that respects and listens.

Just so you understand, being ignored is probably the worst form of emotional abuse there is.<br />
I don't need to be placated or appeased with overused terms of endearment.<br />
I would like to have my feelings acknowledged.<br />
<br />
Thanks butterfly. It hurts to write.

So I understand... Not being regularly told you're attractive by your significant other is abuse?