Sunday I cut all ties with my ex. I can still e-mail him but there is no way to erase the email address from my mind. He could e-mail me or leave comments on the site if he wanted to but I have done all that I know to do to move on. It sucks. It is painful. It is lonely. I will live through it.
Truth is I still love him. I have a feeling I will always love him. In some ways, he was a great guy. We had some really great times. When things were good, it was the happiest I had ever been in my life. He was smart, funny, sexy, and very good at World of Warcraft. He was also emotionally abusive.
The problem is that he was not a monster. He was confused and emotionally damaged. I felt him working very hard to overcome and become a better person and that is why I stayed. I saw so much good in him. I had hope that if I loved him enough and just hung in there, things would be okay. I was pretty dumb about that. (Did I drink that kool-aid?)
I think that is the problem most people in emotionally abusive relationships face. The abusers are not some monsters with dripping fangs or we don’t have to cover bruises or make lame excuses during hospital trips. We have to make smaller, more subtle excuses. Most of them, we only have to make to ourselves. After awhile we become really good at these excuses and they automatically spring to our minds and we don’t even notice we are making them.
One of my friends and my role model for internet goddess Sara O’Flaherty said:
It’s easy to make excuses for people we love, and as it starts to hurt less we tend to not think it was as bad. Sometimes you have to take that shard of glass and dig it back in the wound to remind yourself how utterly awful it was.
When it began I knew it was abuse. I thought I was strong enough to face it. Somewhere in the middle of all of it I forgot to face it and just took it. I had my reasons. By the time he broke up with me, I was so confused I didn’t know to be outraged. I had lost track of how I was supposed to be treated. I had gotten so wrapped up in forgiving him and loving him, I had forgotten about me.
I hate admitting this, it is part of the shame, but I only knew something was wrong by the reactions of my friends. I feel like I should have come out of it mad and outraged. I am still ashamed at my lack of indigence. It should not have taken Tina’s rage, Sara’s swearing and name calling, and Lanell holding my handing telling me “honey, he abused you, you were abused,” to make me see things were desperately wrong. I am even more ashamed that I made excuses for it in the beginning. Truth is that the shame isn’t helpful. Truth is that I went through what way too many women (and men) go through.
Now all I can do is try to look back at what happened and examine it without the excuses and the shame.
It is hard to know when it all began. He had been tempestuous before we even got together. I didn’t know enough to see that as a warning sign. He very obviously loved me, even in the beginning. In the beginning, he would tell me how smart, beautiful, and talented I was. I was like a flower growing in summer sunlight. I liked the me I was with him in the beginning.
He had a temper even then and I was afraid of it even then. In the beginning, though, he always knew when he overstepped. So many times in the relationship, I would be on the brink of leaving and he would do something that kept me there. Everyone seemed to noticed that he had a sixth sense of right when he was about to push me too far. I still remember things being good most of the time. I have no idea if I was wrong or not.
Then the big bad happened. I called it “the rough patch.” That is like calling Mel Gibson a little unbalanced. I think this is when the excuses started to flow like spice on Dune. I understood why he acted the way he did. I think I forgot that understand why someone is acting they do is not the same as it being okay. I know I knew there were things that were not okay but I was going to wait for things to calm down to talk about them. Things never really got good after that. I was stubborn and I loved him so I kept pushing.
I am coming to realize that the details don’t really matter except to help remind me of how things that happened where not okay. I know how a man is supposed to treat a woman. I know how a woman is supposed to treat a man. I know I wasn’t being treated like that. It is so damned hard to admit that I have issues believing I can be treated well and loved and cherished. I see men bending over backwards for the women they love. I was raised by a good man. I am surrounded by good men. I know what they are supposed to be like. My self esteem is so low that I have a hard time believing I will ever be treated like that. It is a hard truth to face. Strong woman is screaming.
There is just so much. One thing leads to another to another. I get lost in it in my head. I don’t really know how to best handle it all. I do think it is best to take Sara’s advice and keep poking at it until all the poison drains from the wound and all I have is a scar. I know I need to get a job. I know I should be doing a billion other things. Knowing something and making it happen are often different things. Some days I don’t have the bravery to face the immensity of the world. Most days I don’t have the bravery. I will try and start then something else will come up and I just get too discouraged. I try so hard to be positive but some days I just don’t have it in me. Every once in awhile it becomes so much that part of me just wants to not exist for a few minutes. Bah I am getting way off track.
The point was supposed to be that many people that do this are not the monsters we want to believe they are. The effects are profound. The damage emotional abuse causes is real and painful and scarring, just as scarring as physical abuse. I am not saying that because these abusers are not monsters that what happens isn’t monstrous. I needed to realize this. I needed to come to grips with the fact that I stayed not because I was weak but because I am human. It is a hard balance to walk. I loved him for a good reason and I have to remember that while realizing why I couldn’t stay.
If you do happen to read this, know that part of me will always love you. There is good in you and I believe in that good. My greatest hope for you is that somehow you heal enough so when you are ready, you can be happy and you can have the kind of relationship the best parts of you deserve. Closing that door was the hardest thing I have ever done. I know you have it in you to be an incredible man someday. I just can’t wait for that someday.