I hardly know where to begin. I honestly believe somethings need to be written or discussed but it is hard starting. So I will start here.
I have this idea of a strong woman in my head. She is bold and brave and takes no shit from anyone. I have spent my life wanting to be her. I think most of the women in my generation have her residing in their heads in one form or another. She is the result of many generations of women before us struggling for a sliver of something better. Not aiming to be the strong woman somehow denigrates that effort and spits on all that struggle. I owe it to those women to be a strong woman. I owe it to my mother to be that woman considering what she did to give me the chance to be her.
When I was younger I had a male friend that would get high and hit me. Who it was doesn’t matter anymore nor does anything else other than the lasting shame. Strong woman doesn’t let a man hit her. She rips his balls off and feeds them to him with marmalade. It was almost ten years ago and I just told my mother a few months ago because of the shame. I can actually count on one hand the people I have talked to about it. I will never tell my father and I will pray he never reads this, not for the shame but for the fear he will actually rip some balls off but he won’t use the marmalade.
Anyway, that shame sticks. Every relationship you have you think about it. I know it wasn’t right. I know it wasn’t my fault. I know it should never happen again. The shame is still there and it causes you to question everything. It takes away your ability to trust your own instincts. You feel a constant fight to balance between the knee jerk reactions of either taking it like a mouse or being a nazi. I don’t want to be either. I want to be somewhere in the middle, somewhere healthy. What is healthy? What would a strong woman do.
So you get into another relationship. At first things seem good but little warning signs start appearing. He yells at you at night and skirts the edge of calling you stupid. The excuses start early too. Oh its just because he is tired. He says and does stupid things. Are they normal boy things or are they something that you should not take? Are you just being over sensitive? Well, hang in for just a bit more to see what happens. He has so many good things about him and he really does honestly love you.
Things progress and it seems the worst that happens is that he is not supportive. He tells you that he doesn’t want to hear about the bad things going on with you. He doesn’t call you when you are struggling with family emergencies. You figure he just feels frustrated because he can’t be there for you. Things settle out and you find out later that he was flirting with another girl and he mentions in passing that she sent him a picture of herself. He seems very sorry that it hurt you and it won’t ever happen again.
Later, your best friend has a baby and you go to spend the night with her family to celebrate the happy event. He gets mad. He screams at you. He is pissed that you didn’t answer his calls and that you had three drinks and that you were in a pool. He is at home alone and you are having fun playing around. Subtly, strong woman starts to recede. The chance for balance starts to slip away.
Time progresses with a million little things. None of them seem big anymore. Insults slipped into conversations or nasty words yelled during a rant become no big deal. It is just him and he is trying to learn to deal with his emotions better. Yeah, and he only beats you because he loves you. *Eye roll* You are a strong woman, you can handle it because he loves you and you can help him. You find out about lies and you explain them away in your head. If you just stick it through it will get better.
Strong woman still lives in your head. She screams in anger when he tells you “you need to shut the fuck up, you are making yourself sound like a total whore.” (I didn’t actually call you a whore, Selina, and you did take that joke too far so you did sound slutty.) She realizes it is not okay when he tells you about all the women who are hitting on him then tells you that he is glad no one wants you. You feel her reacting when you jump at any scrap of kindness and praise like a hungry puppy. She tells you that you should get mad that he turns off his phone for days but gets pissed when you don’t answer his calls. Strong woman is in the back of your head while he is berating you about your mistakes and ranting at you because you have told other people basic things about your relationship.
The shame you feel is worse because you see the same things strong woman sees. You know what is happening is not okay. You see that everyone around you sees that it is not okay too. You just know you are not strong enough to stop it so the shame grows.
When it ends shock and pain is there first. The desperate gasping is almost unbearable. The shame starts to creep in. First, it is because you feel like you failed. You feel like a fool. You try to stamp that out. Then people tell you that you are strong woman for handling like you do. Shame seeps in because you didn’t end it, it floods in because of that tiny part of you would have jumped at a chance to have him back. (That part of you has been quashed, thankyouverymuch.) The shame twinges when you realize you really liked being in a relationship and you actually don’t prefer to be single. Strong woman is just as happy alone.
The shame is so deep and strong that you know you have to write about it but you have a hard time feeling that vulnerable.
The shame is so strong that the only I could only write this in the obnoxious second person. It is so strong that I am writing this rushedly with very little thought to wording or polish because I am afraid if I think about it I will stop. I need to write about this. The shame needs to be faced.
I try so hard to be strong woman. I want that balance. I hate that part of me is afraid to post this because he might read it and he might get mad. I am sick of the shame. I am too good for that. The shame is stupid and I would tell any other woman that she needed to let go of her shame so she can move on and find a relationship worthy of her. Easier said than done.
If I ever meet strong woman, I might want to punch her in the face.