When a manipulative, destructive marriage ends in divorce, oftentimes the manipulating person (your ex or soon-to-be ex) will place the guilt and blame on you, adding insult to injury and exponentially magnifying the heartbreak and stress that divorce can cause. It's almost impossible to recover from the sadness and despair, simply because you feel like the divorce was your fault. It's time to realize that it's not your fault, as hard as that may be to accept.
This feeling of blame is simply a case of the manipulative person projecting his/her behavior on to you. He or she will rationalize their actions by pointing out your faults, and they will deflect their guilt and remorse by placing blame on you. These are the types of people who should be using the clichéd phrase "It's not you, it's me," but egos prevent them from ever admitting any kind of blame or fault and showing any remorse or guilt.
In extreme cases, these people go undetected in society with severe personality disorders (known as many different terms including psychopaths, sociopaths, antisocial disorder, narcissistic disorder, and others). But the spectrum is wide, and there are all levels of abuse, betrayal, and deceit that happen in marriages to manipulative people. These people can leave with no apologies and no signs of remorse, never to make contact again (as there's no more need for you in their game of domination), and you are left thinking "What did I do wrong?" "Was I not good enough?" and "What didn't they love about me?"
The hardest thing to swallow, admit, and really believe is that this is not your fault. In normal relationships and marriages, maybe--maybe--there was something you could have done better, talked about more, or addressed earlier on. But, in the case of a manipulative relationship, the person you were with was never truly emotionally connected or involved in the relationship in the same way that you were. They were only involved for their own personal gain--sex, money, ego, thrill, and so on. They will do this to the next person and the next, and it won't be those people's faults either.
You cannot be at fault for truly loving, giving your all, and being sincere and honest. It's hard to realize that, but at the simplest level, think about it--how can someone get in trouble for being good?
It's not your fault--don't make it that way. The only thing that you can be to blame for is a poor judge of a bad character and giving someone the benefit of the doubt or too many chances. In a strange truth, the world doesn't always revolve around you. A therapist said to one of our BounceBack members who was going through this situation, "You know, as wild as it may seem, this might actually have nothing to do with you." In the case of manipulative relationships, this is almost always the case.
Continue to remind yourself that "It's not me, it's you" might be the right phrase for you for this occasion, and be proud of yourself for being true to your feelings. Know that the manipulative person will most likely jump from relationship to relationship, marriage to marriage, and divorce to divorce, treating everyone the same way they treated you, and never finding the true happiness you will be able to find.
Courtney Stovall is the Co-Founder of BounceBack.com, a community and resource network dedicated to helping people find happiness after heartbreak. BounceBack.com has helpful articles, community forums, and a place to share your heartbreak story, all focused on helping you heal from a breakup or divorce in the right way.