Hey y'all. I haven't been very prolific lately. Perhaps it's because something has been weighing on my mind - because it has.
I spent weeks writing this post and still shuddered at posting it because it's not perfect - but it never will be, because no words can describe the pain that can come from an abusive relationship.
I would like to note that this is from the perspective of a woman, but all people can be a victim in an abusive relationship, regardless of sex, age, gender, race, etc.
Please bear with me while I stumble through and find my words on a topic that's never easy to discuss, but nevertheless, necessary to shed light on.
I was in an abusive relationship for two years (thankfully, not more). It was abusive on every level you can imagine.
I spent nights crying while he slept soundly.
Most (if not all) of the sex I had was unwanted, but I felt like I needed to.
I was kind, gentle, unwavering in my gratitude, love, and support, no matter how many times he put me down, or was with other women, or even after he hit me.
I did everything he could have ever possibly wanted - and I mean that, everything - and it was never good enough.
I lost my sense of self. That grateful, loving, supportive girl spent so much time and energy trying to support this person that she forgot to spend time and energy supporting herself.
Never had I ever wanted to hurt a human being before, but by the end of this, I wanted to draw the blood from his bones. That felt horrible for me. I'm not that kind of person. I needed to leave, and fast.
So finally, when I left, I didn't feel pain when he threatened to kill himself like he had so many times before - I realized that his life is not my responsibility, and it was really just a tactic to try to keep me in his grip.
Suicide is very real, and if you or anyone you know has suicidal thoughts, please please please call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Using suicide as a threat to coerce someone else into staying in a relationship or doing any other thing that they don't consent to doing is ABUSE.
I didn't feel sorry for him when he smashed his face into a picture frame with us in it, I didn't feel sorry when he punched the wall, and no, when he asked me to stay the winter rent free, I didn't feel sorry for him. He lost the girl, and she would never come back.
Two years ago, I needed this post. I'm giving it to you, now, in hopes to spread strength and help you regain your voice. Hopefully, by the end, you'll understand what you deserve.
First and foremost, I want you to know that I love you. Yes, you, and you, and you. Even the one I've never talked to, even the ones whose name I've never known and may never know. I'm rooting for you.
An abusive relationship is reminiscent of many things.
A facade, for one.
You probably entered your relationship with high hopes.
They started off by showing you great affection: buying you flowers, or lunch, or surprising you with gifts. They went above and beyond - more than anyone else had before - to draw you in.
Abusive partners are unlike snakes and rabid dogs - they do not simply strike, and they never give you fair warning. They cloak the red flags and calculate, like hunters, choosing wisely the next step to take, so as to gain control and trust without you noticing.
In the beginning, it seemed that they checked all your boxes.
Maybe you noticed the red flags, but you yearned for love so bad that you were willing to overlook them. We all want to be wanted - no one wants to be alone. It was cute that he wanted to spend so much time with you... Right?
A plague, for two.
As your relationship progresses, you might feel your gut churning.
"Something is up with this human" it tells you. "This isn't right." But you don't want to address it - it will go away in the morning. And sure enough, it does!
And then you get this feeling again - this something-in-your-intestines-went-rotten feeling - a putrid one. Perhaps it becomes unignorable. Perhaps you choose to ignore it anyway.
The plague stirs in your like a fever. Yelling matches and gas-lighting become a part of your daily routine, and you slowly learn why words associated with abuse a reminiscent of arson.
Now you feel sick.
Where do you go from here? What's the cure? You'd do anything to have a taste of relief.
A War, for Three.
It starts between you and them.
The fires may start small and easy to put out, but eventually they spread like wildfire, lighting over your fields, once meadows, and turning them to blistering battle zones, eventually leaving nothing behind but ash and dust.
You need a way out. You need to evacuate: find a way to escape, before the fumes suffocate you.
You might want to leave but not be able to let go - don't worry, it will come with time. You can leave now. You can let go later.
You can leave now. You can let go later.
READ. THAT. AGAIN.
The problem is this, though: the war will shift from being predominantly between you and them, to being between you and YOU. It's in your head, like a worm. You forget that you can leave or let go, because they have convinced you that you are the problem.
When this happens, let this be your mantra:
"I'm not yours, I'm mine. I will no longer stand for treatment that is less than I deserve. I need better. I am enough, it is YOU who is not enough. If you can not provide me what I need, it is my prerogative to leave."
This war inside you, it won't last forever, but it won't go away until you get away from the one who started it.
Remember this when things get brutal:
Your inner critic (we all have the lil' fucker) might light sparks or campfires that bleed outside the edges. It can test your barriers, limits, and self images - it can challenge your ego, and help you grow if you let it.
But it will never leave nothing but ash and dust. You can harness the flames it provides you with to light the dark.
This war crosses the line. You can't use it to help you, you can't carry it with you, and you can't put it out if it keeps on spreading - so kick the arsonist goodbye.
All it takes is the last straw - which one will you choose?
What'll it be, baby?
A Haunting, for Four.
When you find your way out, all you'll be left with will seem like ruins.
Where did your sex drive go?
Your self esteem?
All burned and bruised. In due time, with soul searching, self love, and self care, it will all come back to you.
I know you won't feel the same for awhile. It might take some time for things to settle down in your mind while the embers taste their last oxygen and whither away into the air. The smell of smoke will fill you for miles.
It will feel ike a ghost - always hanging around behind the curtains, coming up to test you and frighten you and challenge you.
This "haunting" simile I use is symbolic for the PTSD, anxiety, and depression you may feel after leaving a draining, abusive relationship. It might stick around for a little while, maybe even into your next relationship, maybe for years, maybe not.
Everyone will experience this differently. And if you ever need help, during or after your transition out of this relationship, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, or give them a call at 1-800-799-7233.
This is a great resource for us - it is here so you can use it, so please don't feel afraid to ask for help. We're all in this together.
A Lesson. Finally.
When this ghost visits you, use it to address how damn well you handled yourself. Pat yourself on the back baby, you reclaimed your voice and your life, and the good things you deserve are headed your way.
See a therapist if you must, don't be shy. Get a dog, and let them help you through the flashbacks and insecurities.
Research your local resources - every city has them - and use them when you need them. Reach out to your friends. I'm really proud of you, and they are, too.
And the next one you're with - don't you settle.
I hope you learn that the time you spend alone is something to be cherished, not feared, so you can take your time choosing your next partner - it takes some time to know somebody.
I could talk about this forever, because there are so many details. I'm sorry if I left anything out. Again, this is hard because all relationships are different, but know that you are not alone. I'll leave you with this:
This is your life pretty lil' mama, and if that boy (or girl, what have you) ain't your cup of tea, and they're treating you like you're worthless - do whatever you need to do to firstly get safe, and then, get out.
You don't have any obligation to stay in a situation that is messing you all up inside.
You don't owe it to anyone to fix them or solve the problems in their head, only they can do that.
You can and will get what you deserve, all the good stuff.
And yes, leaving IS WORTH IT.
GET SAFE. GET OUT.
I love you and am rooting for you.
Stay gold, stay happy, and stay safe.