My journey towards self-healing has been hard. Months ago, a voice in the darkness, an unknown ally stepped forward to accuse her abuser. It so happens her abuser had been mine. An abuser who still held me in fear. An abuser who still lashed out at me, used me, and did everything in his power to win over my own agency.
I didn’t see any of this, though. I saw the faint glittering of good inside him. I sought to bring it out for all to see. For him to see. Sometimes I grew frustrated with the lack of progress and lashed out at him in ways I now carry as shame. Ways I have worked hard to uncover and apologize to him over the years.
Yet, if I made him uncomfortable by directly or indirectly causing him to see the parts of himself he didn’t like, he lashed out at me. Because his discomfort, his self-loathing, his hatred towards the parts of himself he didn’t like, were my fault. And so I carried that shame, too. The shame of being wrong. The shame of being a terrible partner. The shame of being too unsupportive, uncaring, unwilling to conform my behavior to his needs intuitively. He never apologized to me. He was justified and right and I was manipulative and controlling.
I didn’t need him to reciprocate apologies, but the fact that he didn’t should have been a clue.
But still, I kept the wrong doings to myself. I let him scare me, manipulate me, isolate me from my allies, control my behavior through fear. I let him wear me down. With no allies while he controlled the narrative of our relationship and with my emotional volatility due to repression, lack of sleep, fear, and depression it was easy to appear as the unstable one to the court of public opinion. Every one was fond of calling me a control freak, the crazy one, unnecessarily anxious, but no one, not even myself, stopped to ask why I was all those things. It couldn’t have been for him. No one could ever in a million years could ever envision him angry, yelling, or losing his temper for any reason.
They were wrong. I told them so. They laughed at me.
They laughed at me.
They abandoned me.
And so I smiled. #andsoshesmiled
Until I found a way out.
I lost nearly everyone I held dear. It didn’t take me long to realize that they were worth losing.
I had gained a lot of weight. I had an eating disorder. I had developed generalized anxiety disorder. I possessed a shit ton of unhealthy responses to normal behaviors. I had difficulty for years developing healthy, adult relationships. But I worked on it. I worked on me. I spent a couple of years intentionally unattached, exploring myself. It was a good start, but it didn’t dig down to the deep abyss he had created. I still felt overwhelming shame. I felt as though I didn’t deserve any of the good things that I desired out of life.
It wasn’t until an ally identified him for what he was that the landslide of emotions poured through and completely deconstructed everything inside me. It was my undoing. I was angry for a long time. It felt like a long time, but maybe only three months. I was honest with others about how I felt and why. I was honest about my perspective. I showed the last conversation I had had with my abuser to show the pattern of abuse: long-winded diatribes that started with half-admissions, a statement about my questionable mental health, turned into full blames (on me), a declaration of love for my person, closed with a “but” I’m essentially being a terrible human being. Each paragraph held the same practiced formula. It was so clear, so obvious, I was so angry with myself for not seeing it before. It was clear he was angry with himself, but since he couldn’t reconcile those feelings within himself, he directed them towards me. I wonder if he will ever see the pattern himself.
And still, I didn’t seek to publicly vilify him. I was open and honest with mutual friends, but I refrained from making him the villain. I didn’t ask anyone to chose sides, but I excused myself from social activities that may cause us to cross paths. I was, am still too hurt to be civil, to be unafraid, and to feel safe. But I didn’t ask anyone to chose. My battle was no one else’s responsibility to fight. My experience was not destined to be theirs.
Occasionally it is their fight though. When several friends received similar communications from him echoing the same pattern of speech designed to shut them down and raise himself up, I was surprised and not. I may have been vilified, but that’s the divide and conquer I am used to. I felt shame and concern that I had led them to these events, but in truth, it was his own actions that soured those relationships. Not mine. I am still working to convince myself of that fact.
I have no desire to destroy him. I have no desire to see him suffer. I have no desire to cause him any pain or ill will. But all of these things will happen, except I won’t be the cause, the instigator, to condemner. He is already all of these things to himself.