It began with the usual expletive-laden greeting and vulgar name-calling, certainly not words of previously expressed, undying love. They felt like a physical blow. Someone stuck a serrated knife into my gut and started turning it around just for the pleasure of it. To say I was scared would be a huge understatement. I felt powerless and repulsed, but fear was the one I still remember. The words, the pulsating anger, the fact that these words came out of the heart and mouth of a person who claimed to love me? It was the very first time I had ever been accused of being a whore or ever had the most repulsive words directed towards me. Alas, it wasn’t to be the last time, and the words just became more descriptive and just as degrading over the years.
I met him when I was merely 18; a naive, innocent, and inexperienced teenager, full of hopes and possibilities. He was my first sexual partner and so shared that very special bond. I was in love and felt like I was so lucky to have met the perfect person at such a young age. I was totally invested and gave my all to this person and our relationship. He said all the right things, would show up unexpectedly with flowers or a cuddly teddy bear, with beautifully written cards and frequently with mixed tapes of sappy love songs. He could not get enough of me and wanted to spend every possible minute of my free time together. Oh, how he wooed me.
I thought it was love but I had nothing else to compare. His monopolization of my time, his manipulation of my emotions, his endless efforts to become the central person in my life; these worked like magic. I was completely blinded by the attention. He saw my ‘weaknesses’ and used them to his advantage; my loyalty, my need to see the best in everyone, my kind heart, and my desire to be the center of someone’s universe. We are human; we all want to be loved. I quickly relied on him far too much. I devoted to much time to him and our relationship. I would skip family functions if he wasn’t going. Most times he refused to attend and if I attended alone, I made excuses for his absences. I, however, could not ever miss any of his family get-togethers, no matter how small.
Passage of Time
As time progressed, he became even more aggressive and increasingly verbally and emotionally abusive. The almost daily tirades broke me and changed me in such a way that I could barely recognize myself. Sadly, I became a reflection of his anger and hate instead of him becoming a reflection of my love and kindness. After a while the shock and fear neutralized into acceptance, I became numb and accepted this as a way of life. My new “normal”. I was so ashamed of letting my family or friends know the truth and played a good game of pretending to be happy.
Some may have suspected but I never gave them the chance to ask. Even though I was despondent and broken inside, I hid it well. I always doubted that anyone would believe me anyway. After all, he was the nicest most fun person to everyone one else he met. He was the consummate narcissist. His façade game was strong! The few who knew shame on you for encouraging and feeding this anger and hate that eventually turned on our children.
My worst mistake was giving this man the power to break me emotionally and spiritually. I allowed him to use me. I let him put doubts into my mind. I let him question my faith in God! I forgot how strong I was. How capable I was, how kind and beautiful I was. I doubted my self-worth. I forgot me. I was dejected, I was alone and lonely, I was unsure of my purpose. I was abused in too many ways; emotionally, verbally, and financially. This does something to your psyche that is hard to explain.
I did not believe I possessed the strength to get out or the ability to survive on my own financially. So I stayed. I stayed for 10 years, I stayed for 15 years. I stayed for too many years! Years of hurt, doubts, depression, anxiety, of frustration, of unhappiness, of anger… I questioned, I doubted, I tried so very hard, got rejected too many times to count, I gave my all, but I was never enough. He never made an attempt to change or to fix the situation. Why should he? According to him, everything was always my fault. He was the victim. He never loved me or supported me or lifted me up. I simply was never enough or good enough for him. But their ultimately comes a point where something triggers you to get the hell out…