With a clarity that was long overdue, I awakened. The hearts and the flowers – they all brought things into sharp focus. For many years I’d been paralysed with doubt. That’s the insidiousness of it. By degrees, like a frog being boiled – before you know it, you’re soup.
When it’s good, it’s great: endless snuggles and laughs; he essentially cherishes the ground you walk on. When it’s bad: the constant criticism, the sulks, the explosive rages, the intimidation, the isolation – it’s so relentless, lonely and bewildering, you start to doubt reality. “Maybe it is me?” you think. You say sorry. You percede to try harder.
It took time to see how scared I was, to realise how my sense of self had disappeared. I had come to understand, that it was my fault one way or another. Had I not yelled back from frustration, if I would have put my head down and accepted his words as fact, If I could just be perfect. A part of me felt sorry for him because he believed what he felt and I suppose I would have to, had my feelings directed me to but ultimately I couldnt continue to ignore the truth.
The truth was it wasnt all me. The truth was he didnt see clearly. The truth was he needed his pills to help calm him. The undeniable realization that he may never relax and manage his temper came flooding in. I so dispeareatly wanted the guy that was happy and good to me to always be present. I feared for the one that wasnt. When would he appear, what would I do to cause his appearance?
“Why doesn’t she just leave?” is an ignorant question. There is a pattern to abuse: how it starts, escalates, and how it messes with your mind. Especially since all those involved dare not even call it that. The word abuse suddenly refers to mass beatings and death threates. You never think to accept that, intimidation , threats and name calling is a form of control. You never stop to think that you did nothing to possibly deserve an unexpected smack in your face or punch in your eye. No matter what, the double standard places him in control and you at the bottom of his feet.
You inherit his logic because its easier than facing reality.
“It wasnt that bad”
“I didn’t hit you that hard”
“It’s your fault”
“You made me angry”
“I’m this way because of you”
Guilt, intimidation and fear cause you to look the other way and bury your pain, that you have convinced yourself isnt real.
I read once that “If you are forced to alter your behaviour because you are frightened … you are being abused.” When being told to “detach with love” or to “stop playing the victim” run. You are being victimised. I’m all for boundaries, but they are futile against a bulldozer.
He’s not doing it because he’s drunk, stressed, insecure, had a terrible cheating ex, is mentally ill, or because his mother dropped him on his head when he was a baby. He’s doing it because he feels he has a right to do it. He truly believes that his actions are justified. He doesnt empathize with me and doesnt see or care about the pain he leaves behind.
Sometimes I question if I truly know what love is, but I know it’s not warm and fuzzy feelings – it’s actions, it’s what you do. I have to stay true to that.