In Sex Love and Obesity Part 15 I discussed how I had found myself in a relationship where I pretty much felt emotionally abused and emotionally blackmailed. I stayed because the sex was amazing and because I was so desperate for someone to “love” me that I didn’t have the courage to walk away.

I want to take a moment to clarify here, this was as much my fault as it was his. While there is no excuse or justifiable rationale for emotionally mistreating someone and tearing them down. There is also no excuse for staying with someone who does that to you. We were both in the wrong.

Sexual attention, a fairy-tale romance and “true love,” was something I had been seeking all my life. I had never found anything even close to it until Peter. I had never gotten that. In relationships prior to my marriage, I was always “The fat girl,” lucky that a boy was even paying attention to me. Most the boys I dated in high school wanted to keep their relationships with me secret so that their friends didn’t tease them about dating a “fatty.”

My marriage had ended up being void of sexual attention and affection. My relationship with Superman had the same issues. Here I was, 40 years old and I had never really felt loved or wanted. This time I was getting everything I wanted in this regard.

That made it hard for me to walk away.

Not that I didn’t try. I did. I threatened to leave several times during our fights. I told him over and over that if things didn’t get better I would leave. I’d tell him I felt emotionally battered in arguments. I expressed that I felt controlled and emotionally manipulated. He’d tell me that I was too used to being in relationships with people who didn’t really give a shit about me or what I did. He’d tell me I was used to having more independence than is normal in a relationship. I believed him. Again, I thought I was broken and damaged and lucky that someone who loved me was willing to deal with all of it.

Here is the thing about someone who has Dissociative Identity Disorder; when you don’t take care of yourself, your “system” as I call it, becomes uncooperative. When you’re not making the best decisions regarding your emotional, mental, or physical safety, parts of your brain decide that they can do the job better. They call these parts “protector personalities,” and when they start to come out, things can get very ugly.

August rolled into September. I went to Paris. He fully recovered from his injury. September rolled into October and Peter finally found a job. It was a work from home job. That meant he was still at home all the time, which meant I still never had a moment to myself. It also meant that he now had to hijack the “home office” I had been trying to build to increase my own income and use it for his job instead.

Right before leaving for Paris I had decided I was going to go to California to run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon again the following May. This time, since Peter was working and had never been to Disneyland, I invited him to go with me. We started making plans for the trip. We’d be going to California first, and then heading to Portland Oregon to attend a weight loss surgery-oriented convention.

Things were great. Until I invited one of my best friends, my local running buddy and her husband to go. The moment our trip might include other people he was angry. We started fighting about this trip on a pretty regular basis.

November rolled around, we celebrated his birthday and our first thanksgiving together. We didn’t fight about money as much with him now having a full-time job. But, we fought about space in the apartment, we fought about my vices, we fought about the trip and we fought about my running.

Peter started pressuring me about moving forward with my divorce.

He wanted to get married. We had talked about it; As a “in the future,” type thing. But, I wasn’t quite ready for that. Already being married gave me a great excuse not to take that plunge without having to fight about it. But, I started getting a little bit of pressure from my family as well. He started going to our “friends” getting their opinions, coming back to me and telling me what everyone else was saying I should do. Eventually, I caved. I started drafting a legal separation agreement. The entire process of this separation agreement turned into a nightmare.

The separation papers were not something I was ready to do yet. A divorce was going to hurt me more financially than it was going to help me. I was going to get stuck with the financial burden on anything we had that still had both our names on it. I was going to lose my medical insurance. At this point we had been living apart, living separate lives for almost 3 years. But, I still had access to his finances. I was still paying bills for him and making sure that he didn’t do anything that would financially devastate me. I had already declared bankruptcy. I was trying to get my life back together financially; a divorce just didn’t make sense for me right then. Especially, if I was only doing it to appease someone else. What made sense was to ride things out until our financial obligations ended on their own. We fought about what he wanted vs. what I wanted regarding my divorce and when it was going to happen.

I didn’t handle the stress, the pressure or the fighting over this issue very well. I started experiencing time loss again. When I realized that I was having issues with my Dissociative Identity Disorder again, I went to Peter and told him what was happening. This was a conversation I never expected I would have to have with anyone. I had been a cooperative multiple for nearly 15 years. It wasn’t an issue I ever expected to have to deal with again.

One would think that at this point I would have realized that the toxicity of the relationship was the culprit. That something was different and that there was a reason after 15 years this issue was resurfacing for me. One would think I would have recognized I was being triggered. I didn’t. I just felt even more broken, damaged and unworthy.

I was ashamed. I was scared to tell anyone what was going on with me.

My issues with the DID kept getting worse. At first, I thought Peter wanted to help me. He had gotten online and joined support groups for significant others of people with Dissociative Identify Disorder. But anytime we got into a fight and I had a dissociative episode there he was, telling me I was crazy. Telling me that if anyone else knew what was going on, they would think I was crazy too.

Everything was snowballing on me. It was December now. I had gotten married on Christmas Eve. Going through the process of drafting up separation papers with my soon-to-be ex-husband passively aggressively guilt tripping me about doing it at the same time of year we had gotten married was weighing heavy on me emotionally.

Then Peter decided to propose to me. He proposed to me in a park surrounded by Christmas lights, with a ring that he had already purchased for me as a Christmas present. It was very clearly not an engagement ring. But, he wanted it to be, so he used it to propose. This was far from the grandiose and ideal wedding proposals we had discussed. In a panic of what would happen if I said no and under the pressure of the moment, I said yes. Then, on the car ride home I started backpedaling. I told him I didn’t want him to tell anyone. I explained that I was embarrassed by the entire concept of being engaged before I was divorced. I wanted to wait for any official announcements until after the divorce. He got angry. We fought about this through the rest of the holiday season.

I was losing my grip on my mental health fast. The more we fought the worse it got. The fights were so ugly and volatile that they would trigger more dissociative episodes. I was being emotionally blackmailed with all my dirty little secrets he threatened to tell people about. I was in a situation where I was staying because I truly believed he would ruin my entire life and the career I had worked so hard to build if I left.

My struggle with DID had become something else he could use against me.

He had the upper hand. He had the one thing I really didn’t want anyone to know about me, to use against me as ammunition to get his way. I was miserable. I was depressed. I was scared. I wanted out. But, I didn’t know how to get out.

I wanted out. But, I was scared that with as messed up as I was if I walked away, I would end up alone for the rest of my life. I was terrified that nobody else would ever love me despite all my ugly flaws.

This, my friends is what a life time of being taught your are less-than-worthy does to you. This is what a life-time of having no self-confidence, no self-worth and no self-value looks like.

Here I was, a survivor of childhood emotional, mental, physical and sexual abuse. A woman who had managed to overcome amazing obstacles in life. A woman who had managed to take her life back from obesity and rebuild the entire thing. A woman who had gone from a career she was ashamed of to one she was proud of. A woman who worked hard to help others, to motivate them to find the same healthy lifestyle changes I had. I didn’t see any of this. I didn’t see the strong, fierce woman I was. I saw a broken, beaten down, bullied woman who was terrified because one person had the power to take everything she had worked so hard for away.

I refused to stand up for myself. I refused to say “No, I won’t allow you to do this to me.” Why? Because he loved me, and I was so damn desperate for love that I couldn’t see that him loving me and me needing that love to find value in myself was another obstacle I had to overcome.

I was pretty sure I had hit that emotional rock bottom. But, I didn’t see a way to start coming back up. It seemed like my only path was further down and sideways. I kept turning to drugs, alcohol and running to solve my problems. But, none of those things were really solving anything. They were just allowing me to disassociate myself from the actual problems; My relationship with Peter. My fear of being alone. My fear of relapsing into my food addiction, and my fear of re-gain.

Stay tuned for Sex Love and Obesity Part 17 – Fear of Regain and Food AddictionsDSSPostSig

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.